Physical Education lessons including students with Cerebral Palsy

The culture of physical education classes in Ireland is one of kicking a ball around a field for an hour. This stereotype has been eroded in modern times due to the professionalism of newly qualified teachers. This change of culture helps to create an inclusive atmosphere and environment, one where all kinds of students can thrive. Physical educators are all the time asking the fundamental questions regarding the most effective ways to give all students a professional instructional programme which meets individual educational needs (Tripp et al., 2007). Often in PE classes students with a disability (either mental or physical) can be left out or excluded from activities. This behavior is simply not good enough as every student has the right to partake in Physical Education classes. It has been shown by contemporary theorists that a students feeling of belonging is majorly important to a students motivation to learn (Glasser, 1986; Maslow, 1970). There are two main types of exclusion  which students are likely to suffer from: Functional exclusion and Complete exclusion. Functional exclusion occurs when the PE teachers include a student who suffers from a disability in the class, however their experience is not meaningful for the student, but rather a token gesture. This often happens went teachers ask students to keep score. Complete exclusion is instead when a student with a disability is excluded completely from their peers during the class.

As already mentioned a positive attitude of the students in the physical education classes are key to a successfully run course. On the other hand, excluded pupils may be felling frustrated or hurt when they are prevented from taking part in the activities (Falvey et al., 1995). This is why the focus of this particular task is to create a PE lesson which includes two students with Cerebral Palsy. What is crucial to remember is that the inclusion of students is not solely achieved through the adaptation of equipment and games ( Rizzo & Lavay, 2000). But rather inclusion requires the use of strategies and techniques based on assumptions and representing a community like culture in PE (Lieberman, James & Ludwa, 2004). What is also needed to be remembered is that game adaptation and changes are for everybody and not just the person with a disability.

I believe that basketball is perfect game for the inclusion of all kinds of students, including students who may require the use of a wheelchair. While the game may be adapted, it still remains fun for the whole class. Some of the possible changes made to the rules of basketball would be as follows.

  • The height of the rim can be lowered.
  • Requiring ALL passes to be a bounce pass.
  • Students using wheelchairs can hold the ball on their lap while pushing the wheelchair.
  • Using smaller courts so multiple games can be played simultansiously. This promotes inclusion and all students to take part.

While researching this topic I also found Rounders to be a game which can easily be adapted to suit students with a disability.

  • The use of Velcro balls and mitts can be permitted, This will help to make it easier for the students with the disability to catch the ball but also keeps the challenge of striking and fielding for the other students.
  • Shorter bases for students in wheelchairs, this allows them to compete at an equal standard to the other students in the class.







Lieberman, L.J., James, A.R., and Ludwa, N. (2004): “The impact of inclusion in general physical education for all students”. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (JOPERD), Volume 75, No.5, Pg. 37-41.

Maslow, A. (1970): “Motivation and Personality”. New York: Harper and Row.

Rizzo, T.L., and Lavay, B. (2000): “Inclusion: Why the confusion?” Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (JOPERD), Volume 74, No.4, Pg. 32-36.



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