When John arrived at the Heartspring School in January 2013, he demonstrated promise in the area of physical education and was eager to increase his skill levels across a variety of activities. While he displayed enthusiasm and was excited to participate in new activities in PE, he lacked muscle tone and coordination skills.
During the cold-weather months, we focus on in-door activities during PE since the Kansas winter can be unforgiving. One of the first activities John participated in was roller-skating, which requires both lower body strength and coordination. At John’s insistence that he was ready for skates, telling me, “I can do this. I can roller-skate,” I laced him up and helped him to his feet. As he attempted to gain control of his balance he looked like a baby deer trying to walk for the first time. Like most Heartspring students, I knew John could increase his roller-skating ability through consistent instruction and practice.
Starting off slowly, John began walking in skates on a mat that spanned the length of the gym to help build confidence and become more comfortable wearing skates. He progressed to skating with an assisted walking device and then slowly transitioned to skating while holding my hands as he maneuvered around the gym. With each lap, John became a stronger skater and gained more confidence in his ability. Finally, after several months and two skating units during PE, John was able to roller-skate independently. He has shown off his skills both on campus and at a community roller-skating rink. This is an impressive achievement for John.
Each year, Heartspring participates in a community skating party for children with special needs and also hosts a skating event during the annual Parent Weekend. John’s hard work has allowed him to participate in these events and showcase his talents to his classmates, students and volunteers from other schools and his parents. I’m so proud of the work John put in to mastering this skill. It’s even more rewarding to know that John will be able to continue to enjoy this lifelong recreation and leisure skill well after he transitions out of Heartspring.