Youth programs support inclusion for children with disabilities


The National Inclusion Project has once again partnered with West Virginia University College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences to continue a program designed to break down barriers between those living with disabilities and those without through one simple, yet powerful, everyday activity — play.

The continuing partnership will support training for instructors and student mentors in Lifetime Activities programs including the WVU National Youth Sports Program, swim lessons, and gymnastics classes.

Andrea Taliaferro, CPASS assistant professor of Adapted Physical Education, and Mary Wolk, program coordinator for Lifetime Activities, said the partnership with the National Inclusion Project has grown the College’s ability to promote inclusion of participants with disabilities and help families at the same time.

“It would have been difficult to effectively bring such awareness to our program and expand the physical activity outlets and opportunities for kids with disabilities in our community without the connection and financial support provided by the National Inclusion Project,” Wolk said.

Thanks to the partnership, CPASS has been able to overcome barriers and better serve children with special needs in each activity. The funding has allowed Lifetime Activities to provide in-depth training of staff and instructors, hire trained mentors to attend inclusive programming to provide support to participants with disabilities, increase the ratio of staff to children and raise awareness of the new offerings through promotional materials.

Parents believe that the project increases confidence while the activities build skills to excel and compete in different sports. They point to how the interaction between children with special needs and their peers builds understanding and friendships.

As part of the arrangement, CPASS has received a $7,500 grant to support Lifetime Activities through specialized training on how to work with individuals who need special support.

WVU CPASS is one of the select organizations that the National Inclusion Project has chosen to partner with for a second year. “We are excited to continue our work with the West Virginia University Lifetime Activities Program to enhance the inclusive opportunities for the children in this community,” says Nick Leisey, National Inclusion Project Executive Director.

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