Center for Adapted Physical Education
At the premises of the Institute of Physical Education, Sports and Tourism PetrSU has opened the Center for Adapted Physical Education for rehabilitation, social integration, and improvement of physical readiness of children with health limitations. This year the university admitted first students on the program “Physical Education for People with Health Limitations (Adapted Physical Education)”. Larisa Kielevainen, the Head of the Center for Adapted Physical Education, told about the activities of the Center.
About the Center
Now more attention is paid to children with health limitations in Russia. In 2012 the provisions of inclusive, i.e. joint, education of children with health limitations were included in the Federal Law “On Education” for the first time.
At the premises of the Institute of Physical Education, Sports and Tourism PetrSU has opened the Center for Adapted Physical Education for rehabilitation, social integration, and improvement of physical readiness of children with health limitations. This year the university admitted first students on the program “Physical Education for People with Health Limitations (Adapted Physical Education)”.
At first, together with the students, we have been visiting various special boarding schools, where we have held sports events. Then the parents showed interest in holding regular exercises with children. This is what has incited us to establish the Center. Last year we had one group, this year we have two (with muscle-skeleton disorders and with mental disorders). The children in the first group practice basic movements and do easy coordination exercises, while the children in the second group do coordination exercises, basic gymnastics and elements of acrobatics. The parents help in organization and the students along with the Head of the Center hold the classes, and to them, it is a great coaching practice.
Students are the future physical education teachers. They have a good rapport with the children; they are basically in tune with them. Besides that, it comes easier for the students than for adults. Of course, it is an amazing experience as it is important for them to get immersed in this environment and understand how to work with such children.
Many senior students base their theses on the work at the Center. They do research, use the equipment in an unconditional way and test their ideas in practice.
They all want to communicate. I have a group of children with mental disorders, but they are so kind, fundamentally sincere and generous. After the classes, they feel the need to come and hug me, not because they want something from me, but solely because they have enjoyed it.
Children wear their hearts on their sleeve. And the students learn that from them. They change, realize the scale of their problems and the problems these children and their parents face.
Once we have judged Ready for Labor and Defense competitions and I’ve watched our students supervise children trying to reach the qualifying standards: they took these children in their arms and started helping them to do pull-ups. Of course, then they had 20-40 such pull-ups, but what mattered is how happy the children were afterward.
We have very engaging training sessions; everything in the Center is bright and colorful and the children always up to some tumbling, rolling, squeezing, and crawling.
We purchase most of the equipment under various projects. Recently we have won a grant and we will soon receive an amazing Gross Exercise Equipment, table tennis for blind people and many play equipment.
On Gross Exercise Equipment
It has a unique design: special fasteners that allow putting a child with cerebral palsy in a vertical position. With this equipment, we can correctly distribute the load on muscles and activate the joints. It helps train all movements from the basic standing up and moving on all fours, to riding a bicycle, scooter, rollerblades and playing various active games.
For a child, these impressions are very important, as well as the ability to do as many different movements as possible. In this manner, we activate his or her neuromuscular system. Life of this child becomes more fulfilling.
Juhan Gross is an outstanding man, the 4-times Estonian Champion in figure skating, 6-times World Champion in winter windsurfing, doctor of pedagogical sciences. Initially, he has designed his exercise equipment to practice complex stunts in figure skating. Later he transferred the system to adapted physical education and patented it. The results are fascinating. This equipment can be used anywhere, even in a pool.
Plans for the future
We plan to extend the premises, install new equipment and increase personnel. We want to hold classes not only optionally, but rather have the children visit us every day.
This interaction becomes crucial not only for “special” children but for us as well, as we become kinder and more sincere. And the children get the hope that they can one day live fully.
The Center for Adapted Physical Education works in the framework of the section 6 “Development of Local Communities of City and Regional Environment” of the project “Pedagogical Innovation Park “Education 5.0” as a tool for training personnel, establishing practices for securing young specialists for the region and developing system of lifelong education” of the Flagship University Development Program.