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An electronic journal for leaders in education
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Go for gold: new resources from the Paralympic Education Program

Report

The Paralympic Education Program (PEP) is a resource aimed at helping educators to develop awareness of the Paralympic Games, Paralympic sports, and Australian Paralympians. It also covers broader issues concerning people with disabilities, diversity and inclusiveness. The PEP is an initiative of the Australian Paralympic Committee, flowing from the highly successful National Education Program attached to the Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games. An ongoing project, it has recently been updated with new material.

The PEP is free to schools and provides a wealth of stimulating and engaging teaching and learning resources, delivered via a website that is both high-tech (embracing Web 2.0 functionality) and easy to use. It includes sections for teachers, students and parents. It provides insights into all aspects of the Paralympic Games including:  

  • the origin of the Paralympic movement in rehabilitation therapy for injured WW2 soldiers
  • more than 20 Paralympic sports
  • the disabilities catered for and the classification system used to ensure that athletes of similar ability compete against each other
  • fascinating facts about Australia’s participation from the first Paralympic Summer Games in 1960 and the Winter Games in 1976 to the present day
  • personal stories of Australian Paralympians, many of whom participated in Beijing in 2008 and are now preparing for the London Paralympic Games in 2012.

The Paralympics theme readily links to a range of key learning areas, and PEP provides teachers with a bank of activities that have been carefully designed to address curriculum requirements.

Teachers may already be aware of the eight primary activities provided through the PEP for years 5 and 6. These integrated lesson plans are built around topics including Diversity and Inclusion, Paralympic Games over Time, Paralympic Sports and Paralympian Athletes, and cover English, mathematics, studies of society and the environment, creative arts, music, and personal development, health and physical education.

Now, six new activities provide an equally rich resource for years 7 and 8.


About the secondary activities and curriculum links

The activities are listed below, together with an indication of key ideas and learning areas covered. The cross-curriculum richness of the PEP resources makes them suitable for both integrated and more subject-specific approaches.

Activity 1: Personal abilities

  • explores the theme of difference and diversity, helps students to develop an understanding of the diverse range of disabilities and also addresses bullying
  • curriculum areas of learning include English, personal development, health and physical education

Activity 2: Personal qualities

  • extends the theme of difference and diversity, exploring a range of qualities that help people to achieve personal goals and highlighting values such as respect, friendship and equality
  • areas of learning include English, personal development, health and physical education, and studies of society

Activity 3: Paralympic athlete data over time

  • explores the Paralympic Games’ history and sports and Australian athletes’ participation with a strong focus on using and representing statistical information and identifying trends over time
  • areas of learning include mathematics and information technology

Activity 4: Past Paralympic Games and host cities

  • explores the history of the Paralympic Games with a focus on investigating the location and features of host cities
  • areas of learning include mathematics, information technology, science, studies of society and the environment, history and geography

Activity 5: The importance of sport for All

  • develops the theme of differences and diversity, together with investigation into the physical, mental, social and emotional benefits of participation in sport and strategies for ensuring inclusiveness; data collection, representation and analysis are also included
  • areas of learning include English, information technology, personal development, health and physical education

Activity 6: Playing Paralympic sport

  • provides opportunities for students to experience Paralympic sports, deepening their awareness of disabilities, focusing on what athletes with a disability can do (not what they can’t do), team roles and other factors that contribute to inclusiveness, fair play and equity
  • areas of learning include personal development, health and physical education

As with the primary materials, the six secondary activities are available as PDFs in the Teachers section of the site and teachers need only register to access them. Each activity has a supporting document that highlights specific curriculum outcomes for each state and territory.

Extensive and varied resource materials are provided throughout to stimulate and support student inquiry, from student handouts to text, data, images and video on the PEP website. For example, the personal stories of Australian Paralympians are interwoven powerfully through several activities and can be accessed in multiple formats, from videos of interviews and the athletes in action to printable one-page profiles that provide a photo, a concise biography in engaging, accessible language and a clearly presented table of statistics.

There is comprehensive, practical support for lesson planning, with each activity providing:

  • a concise overview of outcomes, key concepts and areas of learning
  • a suggested duration, ranging from one to three 90–100 minute sessions
  • a rich variety of learning experiences encompassing class discussions, group work, self-directed investigation including online research and other web-based activities, student-produced presentations and displays, and opportunities for students to share, reflect on and apply their learning.


A flexible resource

The richness and practicality of the activities, together with the detailed curriculum mapping, ensure that PEP meets teachers’ needs while allowing a great deal of flexibility. For example, teachers may draw on activities for individual lessons or groups of lessons. Alternatively, all activities could be used for more extended cross-curricular programs involving teams of teachers and larger groups of students.

In any approach chosen, the PEP activities link naturally to values education.

Teachers wishing to adapt and/or extend the secondary activities to suit their students’ needs and interests could also use additional resources that are easily accessible via the PEP website. These include, for example, a wealth of data in the ‘Fast Facts’ section; a ‘News and Events’ link that leads directly to a bank of media articles about current Paralympic news; links to the Australian Paralympic Committee’s ausparateam channel on You Tube; a PEP e-newsletter; and opportunities to have a Paralympian visit through the ‘PEP Talk’ program. While the activities are the centrepiece of the secondary teachers section and link directly to many parts of the PEP website, the teaching and learning resources offered by the Paralympic Education Program include much more as well.


Evaluating the Paralympic Education Program:  teacher and student surveys  

The Australian Paralympic Committee is actively seeking feedback from teachers and students (primary and secondary) to assist in evaluating the effectiveness and impact of PEP. Simple online surveys have been designed for this purpose. Teachers who have registered with the PEP online can easily find the surveys on the website. They receive an autographed poster or fan cards for participating.

KLA

Subject Headings

Sport
Disabled
Middle schooling
Secondary education
Primary education