Unified Gym: new elective to help spread inclusion

In an effort to foster inclusivity within the student body, Perkiomen Valley is introducing a new elective known as Unified Gym. The course is worth 0.33 credits per semester and will operate twice during each letter-day cycle. 

Ms. Witman, a tenth-grade physical education and health teacher, will lead the course, after having advocated for its inclusion after a Special Olympics meeting. 

“When we [special education teacher Ms. Roche and I] went to our most recent training, a lot of the other districts in the area were talking about how they added it to their physical education curriculum. I added it to course recommendations and it got approved,” Ms. Witman said. 

Any student who attends Perkiomen Valley is eligible to take Unified Gym, but it will not count as a physical education credit, meaning that a majority of freshmen and sophomores will likely not have room in their schedule. The course has many students with individualized education plans (IEP) signed up, but the class is seeking students without disabilities. 

“The goal of the class is to provide a unique opportunity for students with and without disabilities to come together through ongoing educational and physical activities,” Ms. Witman said.

Rooted in national physical education standards, the curriculum also emphasizes empowerment, leadership skills, and learning to be more tolerant of others. 

Structured around the buddy system, students with and without disabilities will pair up at the beginning of each quarter and switch buddies every semester. The curriculum teaches life skills that are applicable post-graduation. Activities such as yoga, swimming and the fitness center will be focal points for the class, along with skill training for sports. 

“This is a really good opportunity to learn about tolerance and acceptance of others and to learn about how others might see or view the world,” Ms. Witman said.