Understanding Diversity Through Fitness

Instructor: Shannon Orr
This lesson defines the terms respect and acceptance. It also discusses how teachers can use sports and games to help students understand diversity and how to appreciate others that are different from them.

Everyone is Different

Our world is so diverse. There are many different races, religions, ethnicities, and nationalities. Although people may be raised in the same community or even the same household, they may have totally different beliefs and ideas. Teachers must strive to teach students acceptance and respect for others despite difference.

Diversity Through Fitness

Teaching students about diversity through fitness is an awesome method to use. Since everyone's skills vary depending on the activity, students who may excel in one area may struggle in others, and vice versa. Respect is when you admire people for who they are or what they do. Participating in sports and games teach students to respect individuals who may be different from them.

When children learn a sport, one of the greatest things they walk away with is teamwork. Children from diverse backgrounds are blended together as a unit to accomplish a goal. The focus is not on where you came from or what you've been through, but on working together. Acceptance is when you welcome or are welcomed into a group. Sports teach students acceptance and gives them opportunities to play with students whom they may not have under normal circumstances.

The simple idea of having a team uniform levels the playing field. No one is looking down on someone else because they aren't wearing a specific label of clothing or picked on because their clothing looks worn. Everyone is the same because everyone is dressed alike and every person that wears that uniform is important and vital to the team. Students should be taught to encourage and motivate their teammates to be their best and work with them in areas that they need to improve in.

Inclusion in Fitness

When people think about inclusion, they usually think about students with disabilities being placed in a general education setting to learn academic material. However, students with disabilities can also be blended in sports and games so that they can experience it and help to teach respect and acceptance. Some students with disabilities may not be able to perform as well as other students academically, but may have strong physical skills.

For example, Matthew may perform below level academically without certain modifications and accommodations, but, when Matthew plays soccer, he may be the fastest and strongest player on the team. After playing soccer with his classmates, Matthew walks away feeling accomplished because the other students are so impressed. Matthew feels like he is a part of the class despite his disability. His classmates may feel closer to Matthew and decide to help him academically if he helps them get better at soccer. A simple soccer game has improved student collaboration, raised self-esteem, and promoted acceptance and respect for others.

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