Reach, climb and soar!

Perkins students and staff celebrate the joy of movement during Adapted Physical Education and Sports Day

A student, with the help of his teacher, prepares to throw a football through a small goalpost

Perkins Lower School student Xavier prepares to throw a football through a goalpost with help from adapted physical education teacher Matt LaCortiglia. Sports equipment with high-contrast colors can help students with low vision participate in athletic events.

July 19, 2016

Dwight Hall was transformed into a colorful obstacle course last Thursday as Perkins School for the Blind celebrated Adapted Physical Education and Sports Day. Students took on the challenge, crawling through tunnels, leaping over hurdles and balancing on steps and bridges.

“I’m a gymnast!” said Perkins Lower School student Madilyn as she crossed a blue foam balance beam. “This reminds me of the Olympics!”

Throughout the day, students and staff from all programs tried their hand – and feet – at tennis, football, dance and other games. The events were organized by a team of adapted physical education teachers who specialize in making sports accessible to students of all abilities.

Adapted sports can include both games traditionally played by people with vision, such as tennis, and sports designed especially for people who are blind, such as goalball. Most adapted sports include tactile or audio cues – such as a ball with bells inside – to enable students to use senses other than sight to play.

“Physical education teaches students about perseverance, teamwork, decision making and communication,” said Matt LaCortiglia, an adapted physical education teacher in Perkins’ Deafblind Program. “Today is about so much more than rolling a ball or running a race.”

A student and teacher navigate a colorful obstacle course

Casey, a student in Perkins’ Deafblind Program, maneuvers through the obstacle course during Adapted Physical Education and Sports Day on July 14.

A young boy and his teacher explore a round blue tunnel that is part of the obstacle course

Deafblind Program student David explores the texture of one of the obstacles. 

A young boy steps over a hurdle in the obstacle course while holding his teacher's hand

David, a student in Perkins’ Deafblind Program, steps over obstacle course hurdles during Adapted Physical Education and Sports Day.

Four people are seated in a circle on colorful matts, roll balls across the floor toward one another.

Secondary Program students Nick, Aiden and Zachary play “battleship” with a blindfolded Dave Power, Perkins’ president and CEO. The game uses balls with bells inside, enabling students to hear their location. The goal of the game is to roll the ball past opponents and knock down their three bowling pins. 

A student who uses a wheelchair holds a tennis racket while her teacher looks on.

Chloe, a student in the Secondary Program, plays tennis during Adapted Physical Education and Sports Day. Small modifications, such as using a high-contrast cone to hold a beeping tennis ball, can make sports accessible to students with visual impairments.

Two hands hold a tennis racket near a yellow ball that is balanced on an orange cone.

Adapted physical education teacher Megan O’Connell-Copp guides the tennis racket as she teaches a student how to make contact with the ball. 

A male student holds a ball in one hand and a tennis racket in the other.

Secondary Program student Aiden lines up the ball and his tennis racket before hitting the beeping ball over the net.