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Swimming: Quality Physical Fitness and Sensory Regulation for Students with Special Needs

Angela Anderson, Kalli Nowitzke, Kellison Kohler, Beth Kovarik

The goal of this program is to provide students with special needs the opportunity to actively participate in a fitness activity that is not only at their ability levels, but also meets necessary sensory integration needs. The money from this grant will be used to pay for a lifeguard to supervise the Community Education Pool at least once a week for a one hour, shared swimming session.

The high needs resource room populations from Wylie, Creekside and Mill Creek have been utilizing the Community Education Pool for the past three years, and we have experienced a 100% success rate with all students involved. Our most impaired population of students, who are unable to actively participate in the majority of the physical and lifetime fitness opportunities given to all students, are able to engage in this fitness activity at least four times a month, with 100% involvement. Under the supervision of the aquatics manager,Beth Olsen, our resource room teachers from all three buildings have observed improvements in behavior regulation, reductions in sensory seeking behaviors and increases in on-task, attentive behaviors on the days students are able to swim. When regulated, our students are more communicative, more engaged with peers and able to make progress within the school setting. Regular physical activity, that is accessible by our most impaired population, acts as a positive social outlet, improves sleep, decreases stress and reduces the risks of developing health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

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