Project Adapted at Nottingham Trent University Print

nottingham_trent Project Adapted is a research and development unit based at Nottingham Trent University's School of Education.  It aims to provide a focal point in higher education for research, course development and consultancy related to providing practical support for adapted physical activities and sports.

We are especially involved in the design and development of basic adapted physical activities, games and sports equipment, for people and youngsters with severe physical, sensory and intellectual impairments. Project Adapted came from the need for Nottingham Trent University to provide practical guidance for teacher training students on a specialist course to teach the learning disabled in the mid 1970s. It was an era when physical education in the UK faced challenges of:

- disabled learners accessing PE activities - the possibility for integration of disabled learners into mainstream education.

The project sought to develop established and new pragmatic ideas applicable to this area. Project Adapted started by developing a number of basic adapted games and activities as prototypes. In 1984 we then we produced a series of pamphlets to illustrate these innovations. We hoped that the ideas would be incorporated as a professional skill into physical education and recreational programmes by: (a) students; (b) schools; (c) training centres; (d) day centres.

A number of in-service courses were then held, followed by a number of indoor Potted Sports conducted as field trials and demonstrations with the special schools and adult training centres in Nottinghamshire. The initial emphasis was upon developing the process of adapting for meaningful involvement, with the focus on educational and therapeutic themes rather than any competitive perspective.

Skills Badge Award Scheme

A Skills Badge Award Scheme was developed with Davis (The Uni-play Award Scheme) backing, and was subsequently adopted by many of the special school settings and day training centres it was designed for. In 1982 a number of schools suggested that if some financial assistance could be found: (a) multiple models of the games equipment could be produced; (b) they would no longer need to adopt a DIY approach; (c) the number of schools and settings adopting the games would increase. A number of the adapted games started to be considered as real competitive opportunities for groups of youngsters with more severe impairments. Up until then the only choices available for them were the more traditional wheelchair basket ball, athletics and swimming.

The first game

The flag ship of these opportunities was Polybat, developed using an action research method with the assistance of PE teacher, Mr Dave Pike, at Westbrook School in Derbyshire, in 1984. It then became apparent there was a genuine demand for similar games for severely handicapped youngsters with wheelchair profiles who had some limited movement potential in the upper limbs, for example those with:

- cerebral palsy- muscular dystrophy- severe congenital conditions.

We also had to consider whether the games provided a sporting challenge in terms of:

- assertiveness- tactics- skill requirements.

Then we endeavoured to develop activities which go beyond the simple "throwing bean bags in a bucket" approach and establish a sporting dignity.