Not your everyday P.E. class

For some students with autism or intellectual disabilities, physical education class can be intimidating. Educators and students at Biglerville High School have found a way to provide a safe and welcoming P.E. experience for everyone.

Biglerville High School's Unified P.E. Class

The Unified P.E. class at the Adams County school brings together general education student mentors with peers who have autism or intellectual disabilities. The result? Students learning from each other and growing in unique ways.

The program, adapted from a school in Maryland, has benefited both the mentors and peers who participate, educators say.

"I believe the greatest benefit is the motivation that the mentors are able to inspire in their peers," said Danielle Thompson, an autistic support teacher at Biglerville High School. "This motivation carries over to the classroom with students wanting to impress their mentors with their grades and achievements."

The students who participate as mentors have also found inspiration in the strength and courage shown by each other.

"This class brings in kids who aren't normally around those with special needs, and it lets them see how special the peers are," said Sydney Trimmer, a student who graduated in May and wants to be a special education teacher. "There are so many kids in this class who normally wouldn't say 'hi' to the kids with special needs, and now they do because they have gotten to see them as people and not as disabilities."

You can watch a segment about Biglerville's Unified P.E. class in the latest episode of Learning Lessons: Great Ideas, Great Schools.

 

Read more in the November 2016 issue of Partners Post.

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