Physical Fitness for All

Students gather in the gym at Oxon Hill Elementary

Throughout May, the White House and Department of Education have celebrated Physical Fitness and Sports month—an annual reminder to us all of the importance of physical activity in our daily life. Yesterday, I  joined Andrea Cernich with the President’ s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition on a visit to Oxon Hill Elementary School in Prince George’s County, Md., to talk with district officials, school leaders, teachers, parents, and others about how students with disabilities can fully participate in the school’s physical education and sports programs.

Nearly a year ago, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report that found students with disabilities participated in athletics at consistently lower rates than students without disabilities.

Adapting physical activities for students with disabilities requires extra resources—time, money and expertise. In schools that fully include students with disabilities in physical instruction and athletics, stakeholders and decision makers have found those resources and applied them to benefit all students in the school.

Students Exercising at Oxon Hill ElementaryWhen I walked into the Oxon Hill Elementary gymnasium yesterday, I knew that I was seeing a shining example of inclusive physical education programming. The school’s Comprehensive Special Education Program ensures that all of the school’s 100 plus students with disabilities are included in general academic and physical education classes.  I practiced my ability to jump right and left and backwards and forward along with a group of second graders in a Dance, Dance Revolution class. I saw how expertly the general physical education teacher and an adapted physical education teacher had worked together to plan and execute a seamless lesson that fully included each of the 30 students in the lesson, including students with disabilities.

I encourage everyone to learn more about Oxon Hill Elementary’s program and others like it. Together, we can share strategies for fully engaging every child in schools’ physical fitness programming and athletics.

For more tips, resources and information on ways parents, teachers and community members can join forces to keep students active, fit and healthy, connect with the First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign.

Alexa Posny is the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the Department of Education.

1 Comment

  1. Bravo to the President’s Council and Ms. Posny for visiting schools to witness quality physical education at its best. Physical educators across the country have always instructed with a focus on differentiating instruction and providing personalized feedback for decades. Every class we teach is filled with differently abled students, and physical education is a place where those varying needs are adjusted for. Thanks for highlighting one of our best practices in action.

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