A free summer program at Columbus State University helps children with disabilities get the one-on-one help they need to develop skills, become more confident, and improve their social interactions.
The program offers children with disabilities a chance to improve their fine motor skills, be in better shape and socialize with others. Each child receives one-on-one help from a CSU graduate student – and it’s all free.
The program is supervised by Jeanine Fittipaldi-Wert, Associate Professor at CSU, who teaches health, physical education and exercise science. She is also a certified adapted physical educator with over 16 years of experience teaching students with special abilities.
“We can teach every child,” said Wert, “and there is no child we cannot teach, no matter what their ability.”
Several CSU graduate students help Wert teach the classes through his Physical Activity Class for Students with Disabilities. Each graduate student is paired with a child for 45 minutes of personalized assistance. Students help children improve their motor skills, increase their physical condition and have fun. It is also an opportunity for students to develop their teaching skills.
“This entire semester of working with students with disabilities has taught me a lot by learning about the different abilities of each child,” said Tammy Chapman, a student at CSU. “That’s the thing with us is trying to see what they can do and work from there.”
Each class begins with work on fine motor skills. Graduate student Robby Burns recently spent time helping Tyler Walker learn to spell and write the name of Tyler’s favorite musician, Boxcar Willie.
“He always writes at an elementary level so we try to improve them just by getting him to write things that he likes and appreciates,” Burns said. “It’s small, but it’s a start. It’s to move it forward.”
Graduate student Alana Spiece says it’s important to remember that there are many different ways for children to learn the skills they focus on in the classroom.
“We never want them to think they can’t,” she said, “because they sure can.”