Creativity, Wheelchairs and Basketball Level the Playing Field

In addition to Crab Soccer, Parachute Volleyball, Obstacle Course Stations and Cooperative Soccer, Health Champion Cameron Leavens created a unique partnership with Northern Alberta Hi-Lights to help promote health, strength, and empathy among his students in Grades 4-9 at Muir Lake School through Wheelchair Basketball.

Submitted by Cam Leavens…

I started using Wheelchair Basketball as an activity last year at Muir Lake because we have a young girl who is in a wheelchair.  She plays wheelchair basketball with a program called Northern Alberta Hi-Lights.  I contacted the group and they let us rent 10 wheelchairs for a week, so I used them with the grade 4 through 9 PE classes and ran a week-long intramural program with them as well.  All the kids absolutely LOVED it, especially the young girl’s class.  This student finally got to be the star in a PE class; she was able to participate in an activity that was not “modified” for her!

       I believe all the students love this game because it puts every athlete on a level playing field…it doesn’t matter if the kid is 6 feet tall or 4 feet tall, if a kid is fast or slow, they are all the same in the wheelchairs.  It also gives everyone an appreciation for their own physical abilities and how challenging things can be when you cannot use your legs.

        By far, the two most anticipated things I do in Physical Education at Muir Lake is an Archery Unit and the Wheelchair Basketball Unit.  Both activities are not only fun and different, but they both give students self-confidence in their physical abilities.  The naturally “athletic” students challenge themselves in both activities as they have to use their balance, coordination and strength for activities their bodies are not familiar with.  In other words, the competitive kids still get to be competitive and strive to master new activities that are different.

    The students who consider themselves “non-athletic” or just see “activity” as playing traditional hockey, soccer, basketball games, etc.  get to see themselves as “athletes”.   In both Archery and Wheelchair basketball, they really focus on what they “can do” rather than “I can’t” run fast, dribble, serve, etc. because they see other kids excel at those things since many of them already do those outside of school or have played it for years.  Believe me, I have had more kids come up to me and say, “Mr. Laevens, I’m actually pretty good at Wheelchair Basketball or Archery”  than any other activity I have ever done in 15 years of teaching PE.

Please click on the links above to watch videos of Mr. Leavens leveling the playing field for all students through his creative instruction planning.