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Children get physical thanks to Catawba/Partners in Learning collaboration

Catawba College

SALISBURY — Students from Catawba’s sport health sciences program have had a chance to participate in a variety of dynamic teaching experiences with young children from diverse backgrounds and learning abilities thanks to a unique collaboration with Partners in Learning.

Under the guidance of Dr. Tanjian Liang, the Catawba adapted physical education program has been developed to offer a weekly adapted physical activity designed for students from age Pre-K to fifth grade.

Using a co-teaching approach, this mutual learning opportunity utilizes various games, assessment tools and modified activities to build understanding of basic skills and developmentally appropriate movements. Students with special needs were paired with at least two Catawba students and receive individual attention, rapport and encouragement.

“It is a great honor and challenge to work with the kids at Partners in Learning. They bring joy to everyone’s day and keep us on our toes, having us constantly modify our plans to fit their needs. This experience has been truly life changing in the best of ways,” says Catawba student Savannah Miller.

“Working with the pre-school students has been one of the best experiences that I have had here at Catawba. Getting to see these students every Tuesday and Thursday and see how much they have improved over the semester in their throwing and catching skills is so amazing! I love seeing them having fun and when they come to class we definitely do that!” student Morgan Brann said. “My parents have always told me that you never know who will impact your life. I would have to say that these children and my partner Will Albertson have made a huge impact on my life!”

The program’s main goals are:

  • To promote a physically active lifestyle to children with diverse backgrounds to enhance their independence through learning developmentally appropriate activities;
  • To provide local families an opportunity to establish a connection with others to support their children with special needs;
  • To enhance Catawba students’ competence in teaching diverse populations to meet the National Standards for Initial Physical Education Teacher Education;
  • To provide a learning environment for all sport and health sciences students;
  • To demonstrate an example of how to develop a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program to all physical education teacher candidates.

“I really enjoy working with the kids at the (Partners in) Learning center. Their energy and willingness to listen and to learn is very contagious and motivates me to do well in school. I think they have taught me more than I have taught them! Working with these kids will be a lifetime of memories I will always share with others and cherish,” said Catawba student Kelvin Uba.

Partners in Learning is a nonprofit organization located on the Catawba College campus. It provides an environment of support that builds upon family strengths and nurtures children’s growth in all areas of development, being sensitive to individual, cultural, and family differences.

The organization serves as the Model Inclusive Center, providing care to children six weeks through five years of age in Rowan County. A priority for Partners in Learning is to develop a comprehensive, community-based, family-centered system of care to meet the needs of children with disabilities and their families.

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