Adapted Physical Education and Aquatic Therapy
Physical education at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children is particularly interesting and challenging due to the make-up of our student population. Staff has to be creative and sensitive to our youngsters’ greatly varying degrees of abilities. Particular attention is paid to the goals and objectives that are outlined in each student’s individualized educational program. Teachers are thoughtful in creating modified activities that geared for fun and success but yet are challenging and motivating.
Students have physical education class once a week for forty-five minutes during the school term. Classrooms, which typically have no more than seven students total, split up for physical education with half going to gym class and the other going to the pool for adapted aquatics lessons. This enables the instructors to provide more personalized attention to each student.
The gym at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children has actually been specifically designed for our pupils who are blind and multiply disabled. The gym’s hardwood floor is accommodating for those in wheelchairs, walkers or other assisted devices. The state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems can be adjusted and tailored to best suit the needs of our children who have sensory impairments.
Adapted aquatic lessons allow each boy and girl to freely move in the least restricted environment. Many of our students are in wheelchairs or other medically necessary devices so the chance to shed these pieces of equipment and become less restrained is a welcome respite for them.
Aquatics instruction ranges from therapeutic movements for our lowest functioning students to basic swimming skills for our higher functioning children. The benefits of being in the water are both physical and psychological. Swimming can help circulation, relax the muscles and help tone the body. But just as important, the opportunity to move freely within the pool can improve self-esteem, promote body and spatial awareness and gives the child a feeling of independence.