A total of 40 students are taking part in a program at the Bridgewater-Raritan High School that plans to partner those with developmental disabilities with other students in physical education classes across the grades.
Called PE Partners, the program is a collaboration between the special education and physical education departments.
“It is to promote inclusive education for all students,” said Joanne Hashway-Rowe, supervisor of student services at the high school. “PE Partners is a physical education class where students with developmental disabilities and autism are partnered with students without disabilities to promote socialization and practice communication skills while developing recreational skills.”
The program, Hashway-Rowe said, is for juniors and seniors, and they were able to apply to be part in the spring.
There was an application process, Hashway-Rowe said, which included two teacher recommendations and an application form.
“Applications were reviewed and students were notified of their acceptance,” she said. “Students participating can either earn PE credits or service learning credits for their involvement in the program.”
At a recent board of education meeting, board member Jill Gladstone said the program is akin to the Crim Buddies program at the primary school.
“It combines general education students with those with disabilities to be role models in PE class,” she said.
“This is a bigger version of the Crim program,” she added.
Hashway-Rowe said there will be great skills learned through the program for all students.
“It is a great way of promoting acceptance, respect, socialization and community, while enhancing communication skills through the use of recreational activities,” she said.