By Darian Brenner
What’s new in the elementary school this summer? A kickball league! That’s right, our students are playing in a kickball league to work on their skills and to have some fun, of course. The idea was created and organized by Sarah Hurst, a lead behavior technician.
“Deciding to start a kickball league actually came through my interaction with one of the elementary students outside of Vista,” Hurst stated. “This student participates in a tee-ball league, and occasionally I help support him there. This league is for children with special needs, but they get to play and experience everything about tee-ball. I felt our students could also benefit from a similar experience so I decided to start the league.”
Of all of the team sports there are, Hurst chose kickball for Vista students. She thought this through for a number of reasons.
“Some of our students have difficulty being near other peers and maintaining safety. Having a wide field where we could spread out our students helps us maintain safety for all peers and staff,” she explained. Kickball requires a softer ball, fewer materials, and a variety of skills. “Being able to focus on the variety of skills instead of material management or protecting students from getting hit by hard balls, bats, etc. helped make kickball a safer option.”
The kickball league helps students work on the goals in their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). In addition, the lead behavior technicians (LBTs) in each classroom set specific targets (goals) for each student to reach.
“In addition to classroom targets, students work on kicking the ball, running to the bases, throwing the ball, cheering for their team, etc.” Hurst said. “On top of integrating targets from school and for kickball-specific skills, it is our hope that students can get an idea of what it is to participate on a team.”
There are four teams in the league. Two teams in the younger classrooms play against each other, and two teams from the older classrooms play against each other. One game is held every Thursday of the Extended School Year (ESY) on Vista’s quad, but each classroom plays every other week.
Not only are students participating in the kickball games, but during their weeks off, they also participate in a cooking activity to provide snacks for those playing in the games that week.
“There is a menu for students to make a selection of which snack and drink they would like, while a student from the non-playing team fills out the order and exchanges the snacks. This gives students a chance to practice their communication and listening skills, peer interactions, and ordering from a menu,” Hurst said.