Disabled Students Get One-On-One Physical Education Instruction With New Program

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Students with disabilities who attend Wayne Hills High School are getting some one-on-one help with their physical education thanks to an innovative physical education class held at William Paterson University.

An article by U.S. News explains that students like 19-year-old Mikey, who has a learning disability, is working on his boxing moves and Adriana, who cannot verbalize and needs a walker to get around, is able to work out regularly.

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“With the help of an innovative physical education class at William Paterson University, Mikey and Adriana are getting good workouts and living healthier, more integrated lives,” the article reads. “Both are students at Wayne Hills High School, and twice a week they come to the William Paterson campus for the kind of specialized, one-on-one instruction that can make a huge difference in the lives of people with disabilities.”

The program is built to aid students who may have trouble walking or talking. This obviously puts them at a disadvantage in a mainstream physical education class and can leave them feeling left out due to the amount of physical activity required.

Dr. Mike Laughlin told The Record the innovative program puts kids like Mikey and Adriana in a bubble. He’s a physical education professor who directs the Young Adult Transition Program, which was founded two years ago.

“Special needs students are frequently older than their peers in traditional high school settings, and that tends to isolate them even more,” Laughlin said in the article.

The way the program works is it pairs students who are ages 18 to 21 with physical education students from William Paterson – so they are working with their peers. It also gives them the opportunity to socialize with students who are closer to their age.

“The ultimate goal is for these special-needs students to create lasting friendships, and break through the isolation that afflicts so many people with disabilities.”

Seven students from Wayne public schools take part in the program twice a week. A bus picks them up from school and brings them to the program.

Because each student’s needs are different, they have an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) that outlines their disability and offers strategies to deal with it.

The students work out with a phys ed major or exercise science major for an hour and receive one-on-one instructions along with inspiration.

Students are able to work out with dumbbells, punching bags, jump ropes, play basketball, workout in the weight room, and participate in individual activities that encourage exercise and movement, depending on the students’ capabilities.