The first time I heard about Paralympic School Day (PSD) was just three years ago from my doctoral student colleague at my university. I had no clue about this well-developed program and the opportunities that exist for APE. But I’ve had the opportunities to be a part of PSD in-services developed by Marie Leake within the Central Virginia area! I wanted to share a recent article written by her and other colleagues.
What is Paralympic School Day?
PSD aims to promote Paralympic education to increase awareness and understanding towards disability sport and individuals with disabilities. It was established in 2004 with the following goals in mind as described in McKay (2013):
- To increase knowledge and awareness of Paralympic sports
- To create a better understanding of practical application of inclusion in PE and activity
- To inform about the different concepts in disability sports
- To increase the usage of disability sports for reverse integration
- To facilitate the change of perception and attitude towards persons with disabilities
- To promote scholarly research activities and studies about Paralympic education
- To provide the opportunity for reflection and debriefing
The program includes activity cards divided into specific categories such as respect for sporting achievement and sport as a human right. Find more information on their website. https://www.paralympic.org/the-ipc/paralympic-school-day
See an adapted session of PSD! Students at Smithland Elementary learn about parasports – Article https://www.whsv.com/2022/10/21/students-smithland-elementary-learn-about-parasports/
How can it be used?
As suggested by research studies, PE teachers often do not feel prepared to include children with disabilities but they do have a desire for more opportunities to improve their knowledge and teaching strategies. PSD can be used as an intervention to provide this through professional development. It can offer PE teachers the abilities to gain specific knowledge and build competence in accommodating students’ needs and facilitating positive social interactions with their peers without disabilities.
How can you plan for it?
PE and/or APE teachers interested in planning for their own PSD can utilize guidance from Leake et al.’s (2023) as well as McKay’s (2013) articles (linked below).
A Brief PSD Planning Guide
- Review PSD program and goals
- Review PSD activity cards and compile list of potential activities
- Obtain permission from school district and/or school administrators
- Brainstorm list of guest athletes preferably Paralympic athletes to attend
- Work logistics of day and time, involvement of staff/teachers, equipment needs, and schedule of the day
- Revise stations if needed based upon athlete availability and logistics
Things to consider:
- Identify the Setting
- Having an in-service at a local school or nearby facility
- Having an in-service as a workshop at a state or regional PE conference
- Think about the costs for
- Inviting Paralympic athletes (travel, hotel, stipend)
- Renting or purchasing adapted equipment (wheelchairs, Goalballs, blindfolds, etc.)
- Local adapted sports programs may have equipment available for use
- Think about the costs for
If you would like to plan for your own PSD and need additional support, please reach out to Marie Leake at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Cathy McKay at email@example.com.
Leake, M., Block, M., & McKay, C. (2023). Using Paralympic School Day for an adapted physical education professional development for physical educators. The Physical Educator, 80(3), 263-277. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18666/TPE-2023-V80-I3-11533.
McKay, C. (2013). Paralympic School Day: A disability awareness and education program. Palaestra, 27(4), 14-19. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305220429_Paralympic_School_Day_A_Disability_Awareness_and_Education_Program