Four years ago, a successful outing in adapted physical education class for Gabi consisted of walking 2-3 minutes at a low speed on the treadmill and being pushed around the gym on a tricycle. Any other attempt at physical activity typically resulted in an aggressive behavior.
Adapted physical education (APE) teacher Travis Grover implemented weight loss and tricycling goals for Gabi, gradually decreasing her behaviors and increasing her level of physical fitness. After time, she began to make noticeable progress, walking on the treadmill several days a week for longer increments. Instead of having to push Gabi’s tricycle in the gym, Travis was able to walk beside her as she slowly pedaled on the sidewalk. As she began to loose weight, Gabi experienced fewer behaviors and increased her endurance level, independently pedaling her tricycle around campus.
“Riding the trike was an activity that Gabi disliked greatly due to the fact that she was overweight and was scared of pedaling,” said Travis. Today, riding the tricycle is one of Gabi’s preferred activities, along with swimming and playing on the air mat in the gym.
“I continue to introduce new activities to see if one will connect with her,” said Travis. “I truly believe her weight loss has decreased her behaviors and heightened her willingness to participate in more activities.”
As a member of the Heartspring Hawks, Gabi competes in a variety of Special Olympics events including bowling, assisted swimming, and track & field.
Along with Travis, Gabi’s parents and school district are extremely pleased with her weight loss. Her mom was so happy with Gabi’s new ability that she wanted to buy a trike so she could ride at home as well. Developing a strong base for physical fitness allows Gabi to increase her overall quality of life and provides her with lifelong recreational skills that she can enjoy long after she leaves Heartspring.