Adaptive Physical Education In Malden

Adaptive P.E. is a class established upon grade level in grades K-12 with modified activities that are safer and more feasible for special educated students. Adaptive P.E. is sometimes taken in place of a gym class, but it is similar. The students taking this class participate in playing sports, although sometimes with balls such as volleyball or baseball, the coaches will use bigger and or softer balls that are easier to catch, hit or kick. 

Adaptive P.E. students playing basketball. Photo submitted by Charlie Conefrey, Director of Athletics and P.E. Taken prior to the pandemic.

The Cupid Shuffle is one of the favored parts of class. “Adaptive P.E. really brings a different aspect to [the students] day, especially during the COVID-19; pandemic students are really stressed and primarily tuned into academics as well as focusing online, it’s a good break in the day to do something fun,” said Pamela MacDonald, Director of Special Education. 

Malden High Schools’ Special Education students, for the past two years, worked hard to have Malden High School revered as a Unified Champion School. A Unified Champion School “is a school and/or district that exhibits an all-inclusive atmosphere for children with [either physical or cognitive] disabilities,” explained Charlie Conefrey, Director of Athletics and P.E.. Unified Sports was created when Malden partnered with the Special Olympics of Massachusetts. 

The class also partakes in many things to be a part of the Malden community. Conefrey stated that “through athletics, we do Unified basketball in the fall, but that was canceled or moved to hopefully in March or April.” There are about 15 to 20 girls and boys that sign up to participate and travel along with coaches for their basketball team. In the spring, the Adaptive P.E. class competes in outdoor track, and according to Conefrey, plays games with “neighboring communities” including Melrose. This makes the students’ athletic experience similar to the rest of Malden High School’s sports. 

Although Adaptive P.E. is a gym class, there are so many other ways students participate and can be involved. For example, students are offered leadership roles in the class. “We’ve had captains of the cheerleading team that were a part of the Pace program, some were a part of the Captain’s Council,” said Conefrey. The captain was also a part of the general Malden High cheerleading team, and was not a “separate entity.”

The Malden High School Special Education Basketball Team. Submitted by Charlie Conefrey, Director of Malden Athletics and P.E. for Malden Public Schools. Taken prior to the pandemic.

COVID-19 has taken much of a negative toll, but even despite being remote Adaptive P.E. continues to keep its enjoyable atmosphere. During class, students use the chat room and enjoy seeing everyone dancing. In-person class is safe and socially distanced, everyone wears masks and are spread across the gym. “It’s a time to interact with your peers in a non-academic way,” said MacDonald. Adaptive P.E is standing strong and will remain a place where there is a fun, safe, and learning environment. 

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