Getting Creative with Adapted P.E.

Nintendo Wii provides a virtual workout

by Alyssa Quintero on April 1, 2009 - 7:08am

QUEST Vol. 16, No. 2

Jacob Engers, a ninth-grader from Baltimore, switched from a 504 plan to an IEP once he qualified to receive adapted physical education (P.E.) services.

In most areas, schools require all students to complete a P.E. requirement. For this reason, adapted P.E., which can be provided by a physical education teacher or special education teacher, isn’t considered a “related service,” and occupational and physical therapy can’t be used as substitutes.

Jacob, 14, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and uses a power wheelchair full time. His mom, Cathy Engers, says Jacob did very well with a 504 Plan throughout elementary and middle school. The only difference between the 504 Plan and his new IEP is the adaptive P.E. program, she says.

Because the state allows some flexibility with the adapted P.E. curriculum, Cathy proposed that Jacob use the Nintendo Wii to fulfill his P.E. requirement. The school agreed and an adaptive program was designed by the head of the adapted P.E. program for Baltimore County Schools.

The Wii is a video game console that interacts with a wireless remote controller that users strap to their arm. The remote is activated by physical movements or by pressing buttons. The console typically connects to a television set.

To play a Wii sports game, the user straps on the remote and watches the TV screen for the virtual serve or pitch. The user then mimics the action of swinging a racket or a bat as if hitting the virtual ball. The console interprets the movement of the remote and the TV screen shows if the virtual ball has been hit, and, if so, where it went. The Wii can be used by people of all skill levels; as they improve, the skill level automatically increases.

Jacob still attends a general P.E. class. He participates in some activities with the rest of the class, such as when they’re learning the rules of various games or completing written assignments. When he can’t participate due to physical limitations, he goes to an office near the gym where he uses the Wii for the 90-minute period.

Jacob plays different sports on the Wii, including tennis and baseball. Oftentimes, another student comes in to play against him and keep him challenged. While using the Wii, Jacob is hooked up to a heart monitor, and his heart rate gets elevated, says his mom, showing “he’s getting something out of it.”

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