School District No. 83 has a district set of child-sized sport wheelchairs to use during PE classes thanks to Let’s Play BC and Director Marni Abbott-Peter. Abbott-Peter, for those who don’t know, is a grad of A.L. Fortune (the Class of 1983 valedictorian) and a three-time Paralympic gold medalist. This year the wheelchairs will be travelling to seven schools (starting at M.V. Beattie) as part of their physical education program.
More info here: Wheelchairs for PE
“We are wheeling into schools and students are loving it,” comments Healthy Schools Co-ordinator Laura Paiement. This is the second year for the program and is one of the most popular PE units with the students.
She comments the feedback from students and teachers is incredible. “ALL students are actively engaged during the PE class and love learning the new skills of wheeling while playing different games, obstacle courses, and sports such as wheelchair basketball. Students don’t want to stop and are sad to see them go when the wheelchairs head to another school.”
The Adapted PE unit is a wonderful opportunity for all students. It levels the playing field, so ALL students are at a similar skill level for the activities being performed in the wheelchairs which is one of the reasons students find it so fun and engaging. Students are also learning a new way of moving, being active, and physically literate. For students who are in a wheelchair or who have a disability, it allows them to participate in PE in a more meaningful way. She comments that this unit also gives students an opportunity to look at life through another lens. “Through this learning they have demonstrated sincere respect and empathy for athletes and others living day-to-day with the aid of a wheelchair. The whole experience promotes powerful messages about ability, empathy, inclusion and perseverance,” she adds.
She notes that schools are following safety plans and sanitizing all wheelchairs between cohorts just like all other PE equipment.
Middle and high school teachers can acquire adult sized chairs to use with their students through the BC wheelchair basketball schools’ program.