I.D.E.A. Program

Integrated Disability Education and Awareness Program
Doug Gates - Physical Education Instructor, Founder IDEA Program, Founder MrGym.com

IDEA Outline
IDEA Guidelines
IDEA Process
IDEA Documents
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Program Goal:
The goal of the I.D.E.A. Program is to raise staff, student and parent recognition, respect and awareness of all individuals with physical and or mental disabilities. This goal will be accomplished by having students living with a disability for a day while following their normal daily routines.

Creation of the IDEA Program:
I founded and developed the IDEA Program in 2004 and ran a pilot program in the 2005-2006 school year at Duncan Falls Elementary.  The idea for this program is the result of several influences in my life.  First, I have some background with the physically and mentally challenged.  My first job out of college was as leading and teaching exercise and leisure activities at a Heartland Fairfield.  Heartland Fairfield is a nursing home, with a building for geriatrics and a building for the physical and mentally challenged.  After a short time at Heartland Fairfield, I was hired by Starlight School as an assistant for the severe behavior instructor.  This class consisted of 5 students who were mentally handicapped, and had severe behavior tendencies. Although I only worked at Starlight for 1 year (as I was hired as a physical education teacher), it led me to a summer job in a group home.  This group home was the residence to 3 of the 5 students in our severe behavior classroom.  I continued to work at the group home for 4 summers. 
Since being hired as a physical education teacher by Franklin Local Schools, I have remained teaching here for the past 20 years.  In 2003, I acquired a wheelchair through an auction.  Right away, my physical education thought process got me to wondering how I could incorporate 1 wheel chair into my physical education class.  Finally, after several months, and my wife tossing the wheelchair, I came up with what is now called the IDEA Program.  Once the idea hit me, it was just a short time before I had the outline of the program, and knew where I wanted to go with it.
     I approached my principle with the idea in late 2005.  He like the idea and gave me permission to pursue a pilot program.  In the spring of 2006, I had a pilot program up and running, and had about 35 5th grade students complete the program.  Later that spring, I was invited to our district board meeting to demonstrate and discuss the program.  The program was well received and has now led to me running the program for the 2006-2007 school year.  I currently have over 50 5th grade students scheduled to participate in the IDEA Program.

Benefits of the IDEA Program:
Increases students awareness of the problems associated with having a physical and/or mental disability.
Increase student recognition of the feelings experienced by those who live with physical and or mental disabilities.
Teachers and Staff
Increase teacher and staff awareness of the problems associated with having students with a physical disability in their classroom.
Enhances the abilities of the teacher by increasing the their recognition for the need in creating adaptive teaching styles and methods which may be necessary in creating the optimum and least restrictive learning environment for students with special needs.
Increases administration awareness of the problems or concerns associated with accommodating a student with physical and/or mental disability.
Increases parent awareness of the problems associated with having a child with a physical and/or mental disability.
Increase parent recognition of the feelings experienced by those who live with physical and or mental disabilities.