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JCS special needs students participate in swimming program

By Staff | Feb 26, 2016

Jefferson County Schools and Shepherd University have fostered a longtime partnership that allows special needs students from the school system to learn to swim at the Shepherd University Wellness Center. Every spring semester, students from T.A. Lowery Elementary School, Charles Town Middle School and Jefferson High School participate in the program.

Shepherd’s goal is to teach students to be comfortable swimming in a safe and positive atmosphere. Students are encouraged to develop confidence, self-esteem and a sense of responsibility around the water.

Dr. Rick Gibson started the partnership 25 years ago; the program was held at the Shepherd University pool. Desmond Lawless, assistant professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Sports Studies at Shepherd University and his students are key players involved in the adaptive swimming program.

“We look forward to the program all year long,” Lawless said. “This is an excellent opportunity for my students to be exposed to teaching those with special needs.”

Shepherd’s students gain experience developing lesson plans based on their specific student. The partnership stresses the importance to Shepherd students to create and embrace an engaging experience with his or her pupil.

Students from Jefferson County are transported to Shepherd every Thursday to participate in the program.

“Our students look forward to class each week. It’s been a pleasure watching our students skills improve and watching Shepherd’s students become stronger teachers,” said Marcy Walker, special education teacher Charles Town Middle School.

To learn more about the adaptive swimming program, contact Walker at 304-725-7821.