Our entire school is for students with moderate to severe disabilities who need life-skills based instruction. Our school has eighty students; most students have cognitive and social skills that range from those of an eighteen-month-old to those of a seven-year-old. The goal of our program is to provide life-skills based instruction so students can live as independently as possible in the future.
While students learn basic academics, they need additional daily practice in a variety of skills in order to be successful in a supported job or volunteer placement, which is the desired result of our program.
Our school just recently started its very first basketball team, thanks to the support of two volunteer coaches. Our coaches are behavior attendants in the school and role models for the students. Without their persistence and dedication, our special needs school would not have a team. Since we do not have a history of sports teams, our school does not get sports funding like the other schools in our district. Our families often do not have the financial means to provide the team with new items. Students practice three times a week for 45 minutes after lunch.
This year, our team was able to complete against three other special-needs teams in our district, and the staff members were amazed at the progress our kids showed.
We would love to build on this feeling and get our kids the basics that other school teams have. The weights will help build muscle tone in our students (an area that many older students with special needs often don't get the chance to continue to develop).
Our students with special needs have shown great improvement in social skills and fine motor skills since the basketball team started. They are more focused in school because they have a motivating activity to look forward to. They are learning how to work together toward a common goal and self-regulate their behavior. When they see new materials, they are going to know that their efforts are valued and that the program is supported.
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