Unified P.E class steals the halftime show

The+unified+basketball+game+was+an+opportunity+for+athletes+in+the+inclusive+gym+class+to+have+fun+and+show+off+their+basketball+skills.+

The unified basketball game was an opportunity for athletes in the inclusive gym class to have fun and show off their basketball skills.

TOWAMENCIN- Attendees of the Wednesday night JV girls basketball game got a two for one special.

Members of the Unified physical education class gathered on Wednesday night to play a game of basketball during halftime. The basketball game showcased the efforts North Penn High School is taking to create inclusion in multiple areas of education. 

Over a year ago, North Penn was nationally recognized as a unified school. The next step to continue supporting inclusion is creating an inclusive physical education class. Beginning in the spring, Mrs. Kristen Panaski, a North Penn health and physical education teacher,  contacted the NPSD administration to implement the inclusive class.

“When my schedule finally came out in August, there was an opportunity that I have an autistic support class 8th period on A/D days. We were able to maybe ask seniors who had early release ‘would you be willing one day to come.’ We actually had [students] on the first morning show so I could recruit people,” explained Panaski. 

Seven seniors volunteered to be partners and participate in the unified gym class with student athletes in the two Autistic support classes. Since September the class worked on various sports such as Bocce ball, flag football, floor hockey, and basketball. 

“We invited just for our basketball unit Mrs. Pettie’s Life Skills class to try to get more athletes involved. I had this as a goal of mine from day one from the beginning of the school year to try something like basketball, something outside of one of the unified teams that we have after school and give it a shot,” added Panaski. 

The North Penn React Club, which has many members with disabilities, also attended the game to watch their peers challenge the girls varsity basketball team. The event aimed to show that students with disabilities can participate in sports with an inclusive environment.

“I feel that a lot of parents feel excited that their kids have an opportunity to play sports and be treated equally.

I feel like a lot of people, it doesn’t matter if you’re athletic or not, for a partner it’s important to be kind and willing to help out and be involved.”

— Mrs. Kristen Panaski

 

“I feel that a lot of parents feel excited that their kids have an opportunity to play sports and be treated equally. I feel like a lot of people, it doesn’t matter if you’re athletic or not, for a partner it’s important to be kind and willing to help out and be involved.Some regular education students in the hallway have stopped me asking how to get involved, and that’s [how we know] this is working,” described Panaski. 

Since the beginning of the school year, senior Alaina Mullaly has been a partner in the unified gym class. Mullaly is also a member of the girls varsity basketball team and had the opportunity to help her peers in a setting she is very familiar with. 

“We’ve been working on basketball for right around a month now, so about four weeks in gym class. I think it’s a great opportunity definitely for the athletes to be showing off al the hard work about learning a new sport and the skills they learn like dribbling and shooting. I think it’s good for them to showcase in a public setting everything they’ve been working on,” said Mullaly. 

Panaski’s efforts to promote the inclusive gym class are aimed to hopefully create a full-year elective course that students can take. 

“Everyone has to take physical education, but people who love physical education don’t have the opportunity to take another class. That is part of what I want to do, to make this [class] an elective. Anyone who signs up for it actually wants to be in the class. It’s not like you are forced to take it. I know everyone who would sign up for it wants to be there and have it as an opportunity to make new friendships,” said Panaski.

Next on Panaski’s agenda is to plan more events like the basketball game and promote inclusive team sports where everyone is on the same playing field. The ultimate goal is to get the elective course approved by the school board and into course selection next spring. 

There’s nothing stressful about it. You feel accomplished. You do get instant gratification from doing something like this, and this is something that you would bring with you in college.”

— Mrs. Kristen Panaski

“There’s nothing stressful about it. You feel accomplished. You do get instant gratification from doing something like this, and this is something that you would bring with you in college.With what classes [students] liked, I would hope this would be one of the classes that students would say was one of their favorite classes. That is what I look forward to,” said Panaski.