1st Evoluer workshop sets the agenda for inclusive physical education

There was plenty of energy and heart evident at the recently held Evoluer workshop in Adapted Physical Education at the Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education.

7-day course in Adapted PE in Gwalior from 2-7 January 2018

Ninety-one participants from across India came forward for the first such workshop, which was the initiative of Shaloo Sharma and Sunil Bhatt. The participants were an interesting and varied mix of physical education teachers, coaches, occupational therapists, as well as students from other universities. Most of them had no experience in adapted physical education.

Evoluer is the brainchild of Sharma, who is an experienced educator with around 20 years of experience dedicated to special needs, while Bhatt is backed with over 10 years of experience working across mainstream and special schools in India and the United States.

"It was quite challenging to have a program that would keep nearly a 100 people engaged for seven full days. And we achieved that by keeping a good balance of theory as well as the physical aspect" - Shaloo Sharma, Founder, Evoluer

Among the highlights of the seven-day workshop, was when students from Amar Jyothi Charitable Trust spent an entire day. This is a voluntary organisation that offers rehabilitative services to the disabled through a mix of inclusive education, medical care, vocational training, child guidance and self-employment.

"The interesting thing about this workshop was that everyone was able to put into practice what they had learned over the day", says Bhatt. 'We were all able to connect and it was lighthearted. One of the big learnings was that there is a difference between winning and success".

The participation aside, the workshop also thew up some of the challenges that lie ahead. One of the main being to design activities in a way that the needs of the disabled are accommodated. The activities also need to keep in mind the variety of disabilities in one person.

As Sharma points out, it is easier to grasp the needs of the blind, deaf and on those on wheelchairs.

"When the disabilities are overlapping like say there are sensory and coordination issues, then it becomes more nuanced and difficult to design the activities" - Shaloo Sharma

The response was amazing and so was the feedback. The vice chancellor of the Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education has promised to raise the issue of adopting Adapted PE as part of the mainstream school curriculum.

"It is not rocket science and nor does it need any major technology", says Bhatt, who hopes for day when APE becomes a part of the mainstream physical education curriculum across India. "All it needs is a will, mind and heart".

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