Disabled students find warm welcome in adaptive PE

Jeanette Alvarez, Special to The Rip

When Kathy Moretti goes to work, it is more as if she is going to see family. That is how she sees the Adaptive Physical Education Program.

The program is designed for students with physical disabilities, but about 20 percent of those who enroll in the class can be non disabled students who just want an individualized program. Assistants Jake Davis and Mandy Drath help the students.

“It’s a feeling of we’re happy to see you,” said Moretti.

Adaptive PE is not just about weight training. Moretti also teaches the students about nutrition and physiology.

During their mid term and final exams, the students must identify the muscle groups and the equipment and exercises that work these muscles.

“It’s a place where you feel better when you leave the doors,” said Moretti.

To 74-year-old Marilyn Moore, Moretti, who has taught at BC for 19 years, is a “real inspiration.”

“She’s what you call a master teacher,” said Moore, a student in her class.

But the class is not all fun and games considering the poor conditions of the gym.

Unlike the student fitness center, the adaptive PE gym does not have air conditioning or as much equipment.

The only circulated air in the gym comes from a few ceiling fans and open windows.

This creates problems for the students who have trouble breathing or are not able to move around freely. The students in the class are able to use the student fitness center but because of their disabilities, it is troublesome.

The student fitness center is fast-paced with no certified assistants who are capable of handling any problem that may occur due to a student’s disability, according to Moretti.

For students Peter and Lynda Saunus, the adaptive gym is easy to move around in compared to 24-Hour Fitness, where they both used to work out.

“He can come here and work out on the machines and it makes him feel good being able to do that because he’s in a wheelchair,” said Saunus.

“Not only is it helping him physically, but it’s helping him mentally because we are doing things that we used to do,” she added.

Unlike the student fitness center, the adaptive gym is open only three days a week.

Moretti said that she has been trying to arrange for the gym to be as available as the student fitness center but has been unsuccessful. Her last resort may be legal action.

“I’m looking into that,” she said. “I don’t want to take legal actions, but at the same time we want to be heard.”

The main change she wants for the gym is five-day-a-week availability and longer hours.

It is currently open from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Since the gym is not large enough, Moretti can only accept 20 students per semester.

She does not want the students to wait for machines and she wants them to receive individualized attention.

Because of this, she has a waiting list of 46 students. And she doesn’t like to turn students away.

The adaptive PE program is all about independence, self-motivation and most important, safety. And to the students, as Moore said, the class is a “real godsend.”