North Texas Daily

Students work toward inclusion

Students work toward inclusion

September 15
22:38 2009

By Amber Arnold / Senior Staff Writer –

Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, the sounds of children laughing, balls bouncing and little feet pattering on concrete fill the Physical Education Building.

But it’s not just playtime.

The children are part of a UNT class called Movement for Special Populations, a required course created for kinesiology majors to gain hands-on training to teach students with disabilities.

Kinesiology senior Daniel Montgomery and Joy Sullivan, 4 , of Lewisville ISD, practice stretching during a class that teaches kinesiology students how to work with children with disabilities. Joy has sensory issues and hides from large groups. (Photo by Ryan Bibb / Intern)

Kinesiology senior Daniel Montgomery and Joy Sullivan, 4 , of Lewisville ISD, practice stretching during a class that teaches kinesiology students how to work with children with disabilities. Joy has sensory issues and hides from large groups. (Photo by Ryan Bibb / Intern)


The class is in its fourth year and isn’t limited to offering help to children with mental and physical disabilities, said Simon Driver, the class professor.

Siblings of children with disabilities are also encouraged to attend, Driver said.

Kimberly Williams, a mother and special needs advocate, said bringing both of her children has not only helped her son, who is severely mentally disabled, but has also helped her daughter to be more sensitive to other children with special needs.

Williams’ 11-year-old son, Colin, is severely mentally disabled, and her daughter, Peyton, 9, has no physical or mental disabilities. The children have attended for three years.

“I do this program because it helps the students here learn to work with [special] needs kids,” Williams said. “I want good physical education teachers coming into our schools, and this is a good way to help.”

Most physical education teachers in the public school district do not put kids with special needs high on their list, Driver said.

This leads to most of them being left out of activities or P.E. class altogether, because teachers don’t know how to integrate children with disabilities into normal activities, he said.

Driver said he hopes the class and program will help kinesiology students involve kids with special needs when they become teachers or coaches.

The class also differs from traditional classes in that the students’ complete attention is required, said Kelley Irwin, a kinesiology graduate student and teaching assistant.

“It’s a huge deal for the university students here because they have to apply everything they’ve been learning for they past few years. They don’t just take a test,” she said. “They have to be able to befriend these kids to work with them.”

For the first hour of class, students learn about different teaching approaches and methods of learning.

Afterward, they pair up with their teaching assistant and professor, who guide them while they teach the children.

Students are also required to create a lesson plan for each class that incorporates different activities meant to improve certain skills, Driver said.

Lauren Goudie, a kinesiology junior, works with three other UNT students to teach their group of three children.

Goudie said she hopes to become a coach and a teacher in the future and is aware children with special needs could be in any or all of her classes, so she sees this program as training for the future.

“Children work at different paces whether or not they’re special needs kids or just have motor skill problems,” she said. “This program teaches us how to use the same game and teach different levels of kids to involve everyone.”

When the program began four years ago, it involved roughly 10 children. But through word-of-mouth, it now includes 50 children, ages 3- to 12-years old.

“I love doing this. I think it’s a great experience for my students,” Driver said. “Any time faculty can include service learning, it really enhances the educational component of any class and provides a much more rounded learning experience.”

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