SRU expands wheelchair sports education



Students in the Adapted Physical Activity Program use all-purpose sport wheelchairs to prepare for internships and possible employment working with people with disabilities.

Aug. 17, 2015

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Five new, all-purpose sports wheelchairs will help Slippery Rock University students become Certified Disabled Sports Specialists so that they can coach wheelchair sports and lead more adapted physical activity sessions for adolescents and adults with disabilities.

SRU's Adapted Physical Activity Program in the department of physical and health education recreation received a $5,000 Quality of Life Grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to buy Quickie All Purpose Sports Wheelchairs. Athletes use these wheelchairs for a myriad of sports, including track and field, basketball, tennis, rugby, softball and football.

The chairs are specific to the sport and the person's ability level, so students learn how to use the wheelchair for each sport and how to maintain all aspects of the chair. Adapted sports can help those with disabilities lead active and healthy lives.

wendy fagan


Wendy Fagan, SRU instructor of physical and health education, covers many aspects of wheelchair training in her "Disability Sport in the 21st Century" class. Students will work toward the certifications in the course, using the new wheelchairs.

Fagan said the certification would give graduates a best practices employment credential as adapted sports become more visible.

"Students participate in the wheelchairs, playing various sports," Fagan said. "Then we have a specialist who comes in once a semester and trains students on upkeep and maintenance of the wheelchairs."

pam arnhold


Pam Arnhold, assistant professor of physical and health education, said the new wheelchairs would give students better training, thus leading to internships and possible employment.

"We have students who participate in internships at Paralympics sports training centers, so this provides them the newest type of chairs available and the knowledge of how to use them and to coach various wheelchair sports," she said.

SRU, which was the first institution in Pennsylvania, to offer a minor in adapted physical education, has 100 students enrolled in the minor and 22 in its adapted physical activity graduate program.

SRU has received recognition for the program, including the 2015 Outstanding Adapted Physical Activity Program Award from the Society of Physical and Health Educators of America. The organization cites SRU for its leadership in the promotion of health and wellness as a lifelong core value for people with disabilities.

SRU has received other grants from the Reeve Foundation, which honors the late actor and works to empower those, like Reeve, who suffer a spinal cord injury.

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