Special needs students can now get exercise and physical education with adaptive gym.  A variety of games, changes in rules and set ups  help children with special needs attain physical fitness and being disabled does not stop them.

Adaptive GymAt Harding High School, adaptive physical education instructor likes a game of “pickleball”, an adaptation of badminton, tennis, and ping pong.  The low net, large, high bounce balls, and broad paddles make it a great game for kids with disabilities

“It’s good for developing hand-eye coordination, and playing two-on-two, it’s a good cardio workout,” said Cunningham, who teaches 22 students at Grant Middle School in the mornings and 26 Harding High School students in the afternoon.

All of Cunningham’s students have a range of disabilities.  Some are on the autism spectrum, others have cerebral palsy.  Some are in wheelchairs.  Others have mild learning disabilities. The one thing they all have in common is that they love to play.

“They are very competitive with the game; all of them want to beat me,” she said. “And I’m only 4 feet, 11 inches tall, so they give me a workout. Plus, they get it. They understand it, and it’s easy to recall for my students because it’s a fun story about Pickle the dog.”

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