Good sports

Robert Declan tries out a power wheelchair under the watchful eye of Matheny physical therapist Lisa Tuminelli.

The goal of the Matheny School’s adapted phys ed program is to make it possible for Matheny students to participate and compete in modified versions of as many sports as possible. The program ranges from races in both manual and power wheelchairs to adapted versions of bowling, soccer and basketball, to name a few.

For several years, Matheny has been taking this program on the road, to public and independent schools throughout New Jersey, introducing these adapted sports to students of all ages during their own physical education classes. The most recent trip was to a second grade gym class at the Central Elementary School in Great Meadows, NJ.

The visits have several objectives: to let able-bodied students know that children with disabilities enjoy many of the same activities they do; to break down barriers of anxiety about how to relate to people with disabilities; and to replace those barriers with a sense of camaraderie, understanding and friendship as the two groups of students compete as peers. By all accounts, the Central visit accomplished all of those goals.