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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
American Alliance Salutes New Directive Ensuring Students With Disabilities Receive Equal Opportunities to Compete in School Athletics
RESTON, VA, January 30, 2013 – A long supporter of including students with disabilities in school physical education class, the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) today saluted the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights for its new directive ensuring students with disabilities are given equal opportunities to compete in school athletics. The 128-year old group's mission is to promote leadership, research, education and best practices in the professions that support healthy and active lifestyles such as physical education, recreation, fitness, sport and coaching, dance, health education and health promotion.
Chief Executive Officer E. Paul Roetert, Ph.D., says "AAHPERD members, working collaboratively with schools and communities, are committed to helping children and youth obtain healthy, physically active lifestyles through physical education and sport. To accomplish that goal we create opportunities that meet the needs of individuals while ensuring that their experiences are safe, successful and emphasize self-improvement.
"In addition to the health-benefits derived from participating in physical activity, sports also provide all children opportunities to learn other lifetime skills such as teamwork, perseverance, cooperation and healthy competition. AAHPERD strongly encourages an environment that emphasizes skill development rather than a competitive environment that focuses only on winning."
Through its Adapted Physical Education Webinar Series, professionals and parents can become more effective advocates for children and school-based adapted physical education (APE) programs. One such webinar reviewed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) physical education requirements for students with disabilities and discussed some relevant legal decisions and federal policy clarifications related to IDEA and physical education. Several strategies for effective advocacy of school-based APE programs were also presented.
AAHPERD recently published a new book called Meeting the Physical Education Needs of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder that offers coaches and physical education teachers practical strategies and activities for working with students with ASD in both inclusive and self-contained class settings. The organization provides other resources for educating students with disabilities including a position statement called "Eligibility Criteria for Adapted Physical Education Services."
CEO Roetert stressed that all students are entitled to quality sport and physical education programs. He encourages all coaches and physical education teachers to adapt the curriculum to fit the needs, interests and abilities of each student. Using the National Standards for Physical Education as a compass, and with appropriate professional development and support, teachers of adapted physical education should be equipped to provide students the active learning experiences they may need to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to which they are entitled. To follow the conversation on Twitter, use the Hashtag #disabilities.