Shawnee Mission Northwest physical education classes recently hosted representatives from Midwest Adaptive Sports who led the students in playing basketball, softball, and volleyball adapted for athletes with special needs.
Their goal was to help students gain a better understanding of the experience and abilities of athletes with special needs, Brian Vesta, PE teacher said.
“The athletes are very approachable and really relate well to the kids,” Vesta said. “This opportunity really opens the eyes of our students that you can be an athlete when you are in a wheelchair.”
Midwest Adaptive Sports is an organization focused on positively impacting the lives of those with physical, cognitive, emotional, or behavioral challenges through adaptive recreational and competitive sports.
Ricardo Lucien, KC Predators Basketball team member, Matt Bollig, director of Wheelchair basketball and Youth Sports, and John Teegarden, Director of Softball and SM Northwest graduate shared their stories before the games started. They all play in professional basketball and softball leagues.
Students had the opportunity to participate in each sport as they rotated through three stations. One station featured specially designed wheelchairs for basketball that include bumpers and small rear wheels. The big side wheels are angled for easy and quick turns.
“It was much harder than I thought, my arms were on fire after playing basketball. It takes a lot of upper body strength,” said Payton Price, freshman.
The students also participated in seated volleyball and tried softball with adapted rules and equipment for players who are blind. Some students said they gained new perspective on a sport they have played for a long time.
“I am a volleyball player and I never knew the sport could be adapted,” Sophie Mendes, freshman, said. “It was different in a good way. It shows how diverse sports can be so everyone can participate.”
Vesta also said the PE experience addressed the following state standards:
- Seeks to include diverse peers in group activities.
- Encourages teammates to exhibit proper etiquette and respect for opponents during game play.
- Thinks critically and leads group members in implementing conflict resolution strategies.
Midwest Adaptive Sports is hosting the 2019 Wheelchair Softball World Series in August in Kansas City, Kansas.