Abilities outweigh disabilities

Coach+Delk+is+coaching+a+physical+education+class+for+special+needs+students+at+Memorial.

Coach Delk is coaching a physical education class for special needs students at Memorial.

Halli Bratcher, Memorial Staff Writer

Often times, an adolescent mind is hungry for knowledge and thirsts for life skills in order to live with confidence. The minds of Edmond Memorial special needs students are far from precluded due to their participation in adapted physical education.

At Edmond Memorial, Coach Will Delk leads a physical education class of 26 students with special needs during his sixth hour. In a process known as adapted physical education (APE), Delk teaches his students as he would any other general education PE class with modifications to cater to their individual needs.

“Adapted physical education is basically just a modified PE class. It’s tough because it varies from ability from one kid to the next,” Delk said. “It’s just a modified PE class that gets the kids moving and teaches them how to use certain muscle groups of the body.” 

With a class this size that has students with differing needs, it is important to adjust activities to fit each individual well. Students with great motor needs or physical disabilities can benefit greatly from APE. Students who visit an occupational, physical or vision therapist could also progress and work to overcome their limitations due to disabilities. 

Although Delk takes the reins of this class, special education teacher Cindi Anderson and up to 13 of her aides assist him to ensure the safety of all students. 

“It gives them a place where they are free to get rid of some of their energy. They enjoy doing the same things that the general education kids do, but some of them have physical needs that should be addressed.” Anderson said. 

Adapted physical education allows students with disabilities to reach their daily exercise goals and engage in activities that help fine tune motor skills. The class equips students with the general confidence to execute everyday actions and feel self assured.

“I would like to see an overall confidence that they can run, skip, hop and just learn the simple things everyone should be able to perform.” Delk said. 

Delk hopes that in the future he could have a few more hands on deck. He believes that if he could split the class in half by skill level along with another instructor, the children would have more opportunities to broaden their physical and mental horizons

“Coach Delk does an awesome job with all of the kids,” Anderson said. “The only thing I would like to see is more equipment. Coach Delk does a really good job of finding what we have here at memorial and tailoring it to our kids. For our kids who have more significant physical needs adaptive equipment for them would help.” 

With the skills being taught to them, APE allows students to improve their physical fitness and feel more confident in their actions and movements. Without the program, students would virtually be overlooked in mainstream PE class and their needs would be cast aside.

In this class, students are not limited by their disabilities, they are only encouraged to persevere through all hardships they face in life.

 

Contact Halli Bratcher at [email protected].