Conquering Curiosity Through Physical Education

Administrators and teachers have become enthusiastic cheerleaders as well. More than 30 public and private schools have signed up to host assemblies, and several schools have brought the team back multiple times. “This was such a wonderful message for our students to hear, and I know that they have a much better understanding of people with disabilities,” says Principal Julie Robideaux Prince of SummerwindElementary School.

A teacher at Shadow Hills Elementary says, “This assembly made my students want to know more about others with disabilities in our school.”

Adding On

In the future, Kovarik may add an obstacle course requiring teachers to wheel over a rope or curb, up and down a ramp, and around cones. Lacey Heward, a Paralympic skier and a past participant on the Ability Team, believes the obstacle course could be a great tool to build awareness and get kids thinking about deeper questions.

While the teachers tackled the obstacle course, team members could explain the challenges and why it’s important to have accessibility. Then the team could do the obstacle course and explain that “We all have to adapt to our environment, and it takes courage and determination to get through the obstacles in life,” says Heward.

The program format has been tweaked over time to make a lasting impression on the students. “What they learn is life skills, how to treat people with respect, and perseverance,” she says.

Whether it’s the personal stories of the wheelchair athletes or the fast-paced and fun wheelchair basketball game with the teachers, kids seem to hear the message loudly and clearly. “Thank you for showing us that even when hard times are here, we should not give up and that we can do anything no matter how hard if we set our minds to it,” says a Boise fifth-grader. “By the way, I love tennis. Hmm, I guess we do [have] some things in common.”

For information about the adaptive recreation program and the Ability Team, contact Emily Kovarik at or (208) 608-7687.

A former newspaper editor and reporter, Amy Stahl is the marketing and community relations manager for Boise Parks & Recreation. Reach her at

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