Unified PE offers an inclusive experience for all


Photo by Nila Cooper

Students in Mrs. Harrisons P.E. class do fun activities with friends.

Tucker Wyland, Podcast Reporter

While the COVID-19 pandemic rages across the globe, people are finding new ways to bring back normalcy and adapt to the ever changing world. The Unified PE class, under the direction of Unified PE teacher Paula Harrison, is working to bring students back in the class full time on Feb. 14 before other students to help them get to know each other better and create a stronger class bond.

Unified PE is a gym class and as such, trying to teach a class over Zoom becomes difficult and those students miss out on getting to really know their classmates.

 According to the Shape America Blog, Unified PE is able to,make a difference for students of all abilities and know that inclusion is doable. And, because you have witnessed the benefits, you can be a role model for colleagues who teach in other content areas.”

While Unified PE seems like a different type of course, it actually is quite similar to any other gym credit but with a different and very fun approach that is unique to the course.

“It’s working one on one with our special education population, it is still giving the components of fitness and some of the things that are within our standards for physical education, but it’s just incorporating our friends (special education students) to make a more inclusive environment for all the kids at the school,” Harrison explained.

As well as creating a very inclusive environment that is welcoming to all students, the course also allows for students to learn new skills. 

“You’ll learn different skills like how to act and good life skills so you know how to interact with different types of people, even if they are not the same as you,” junior Ella Hamilton said.

You’ll learn different skills like how to act and good life skills so you know how to interact with different types of people, even if they are not the same as you”

— Ella Hamilton

Unified PE, like all other classes during COVID-19, has had to adapt to make things safer for its students and was presented with a unique opportunity to do so.

“They would do things called walk and talks at the end of class were you would be partnered with your partner and you would walk around and either communicate with them like through their human communication device, or you would just talk to them, and you really get to know them…and with the equipment your handling, its harder to touch the same equipment,” Hamilton said.

During the walk and talks, students would be partnered with a friend and they would walk around the gym talking to them.While they were walking, they would have a challenge to do, such as balance a beanbag on their heads while they are walking and talking.

“It’s not like any other PE class, as much as you’re still getting your PE requirement, you are getting much more by being able to work with our special friends and just developing those relationships and understanding that everybody’s different. It doesn’t matter if you have, you know, lower cognitive ability, don’t walk as well as somebody else. You’re still a person, and I want them to be able to see that and identify and appreciate each other,” Harrison said.

“How great of a class it is and how many life skills you’ll take from it. So it’s not just a gym class like you’ll gain so much from it and just to know that. Like people with disabilities are no different from anyone else. And you can create friendships with anybody. So that’s super important,” Hamilton explained.