Students and teachers learn through Adapted PE class at UMD
Every Wednesday morning, a gym at UMD is transformed into a vibrant phy ed class. But in this class, both the students and the teachers are learning.
A class of Lester Park Elementary students with disabilities visit a UMD class who is learning to teach Adapted Physical Education.
“We’re all assigned one kid at the start of the semester,” UMD student Luke Hjort said. “And we make a lesson plan for three weeks at a time, and we do games with them, we try to work on skills.”
Elementary students like Allie say they enjoy coming to UMD. Another child, Hunter, said his favorite activity is bowling.
It’s a real-world lesson for the college students too.
“I learned a lot about helping students with physical disabilities,” Emelia Gatz said.
“I feel like it’s a great way to work with kids with disabilities if you hadn’t had that experience,” Mallory Lithun said. “Before this class, I hadn’t much opportunity to work with students like this, so it’s nice to get that experience and know in the future in my classroom what I can do to adapt games for students.”
Halfway through the semester, they’ve really warmed up to each other.
“I’ve definitely seen growth for sure in my student that I work with mainly,” Hjort said. “But then through all the kids, you can see, like, first day, a little jitters, little scared to come in. But now they all get off the bus, go running to their person and smile right away, and have fun the entire time.”
There’s one universal way to know if the younger students are enjoying it.
“Smiles for sure,” Lithun said.
“Lots of smiles,” Gatz agreed.
“Lots of smiles and being more willing to participate in an activity,” Lithun added.
When asked how he feels when he finishes an adapted PE class, Lester Park student Hunter summed it up this way: “Happy!”
“It’s very rewarding,” Hjort said. “Every Wednesday, I wake up with a smile and leave smiling because you know you’re doing something good.”
The Miller Dwan Foundation is supporting the class this year. And the folks at UMD hope to expand the opportunity to more schools in the future.