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Professor wants to expand adapted physical education at New Mexico State University

Scott Pedersen, assistant professor of physical education, recreation and dance, is one of two people in the state of New Mexico who are certified in adapted physical education (APE), and he is hoping to change that through his program at New Mexico State University.

n, who defines APE as physical education for people with disabilities, taught a professional physical education course this summer titled Adapted Physical Education: A Practitioner's Approach.

"The class had two focuses," he said. "One is to gain practical teaching experience with people with disabilities and the other is to get nationally certified in APE."

His students became familiar with the Adapted Physical Education National Standards (APENS). Combined with knowledge of the standards and practical experience, Pedersen's students can become certified adapted physical educators (CAPE).

"For people with disabilities, usually what happens during physical education class is they only get to walk around a track. But if you can make sports fun, it's a different story," he said.

Pedersen modifies sports and games to make them accessible to people with disabilities.

"There's three things that we can change in a game: the rules, the boundaries or the equipment," he said. "People with disabilities may not understand the rules, the size of the boundaries may need to be adjusted and different equipment must be used to accommodate people in wheelchairs."

Pedersen said that he would like to give his students other options to consider when they work as physical education teachers.

"Why not teach all students a disabled sport instead of teaching disabled students an able-bodied sport?" he said.

This summer, Pedersen's students received hands-on experience during a Wheelchair Sports Open Gym and the First Annual Lion's Summer Survivor Camp for deaf children, which was sponsored by the Sunrise Lion's Club.

For the open gym, Pedersen gave people who use wheelchairs the opportunity to participate in physical activity in the Rentfrow Gymnasium at NMSU. His students attended the open gym to meet and work with members of the Las Cruces disabled community.

The three-day summer camp allowed the students to interact with deaf children while helping develop their motor skills. Prior to the camp, Pedersen's students received one day of intensive training on American Sign Language directed by Kathleen Chinn, NMSU assistant professor of special education and communication disorders, to be able to effectively communicate with the children.

Pedersen currently has three APE courses: PEP 341, Motor Development; PEP 455, Introduction to APE; and PEP 501, APE: A Practitioner's Approach. The Motor Development and Introduction to APE courses will be offered in spring 2005 and the APE: A Practitioner's Approach course will be offered in Summer Session II in 2005.

Pedersen hopes to develop a minor in APE and eventually expand it into a graduate program at NMSU. He also would like to create wheelchair basketball and tennis teams so members of the Las Cruces disabled community could compete against those in El Paso.

Pedersen received his Ph.D. in human performance from Indiana University in 2003 and began teaching at NMSU in August of that year.

For more information about APE, contact Pedersen at (505) 646-2071.