A White House summit that is focused on improving health and fitness for Americans with disabilities will include the voice of a SUNY Cortland professor nationally respected in the field of adapted physical education.
Associate Professor Timothy Davis has been invited to share the best practices of university partners associated with the I Can Do It, You Can Do It (ICDI) Program, a national effort championed by the President’s Council on Fitness, Health and Nutrition. The White House Summit and Research Forum on Improved Health and Fitness for Americans with Disabilities takes place Monday, Oct. 6, and Tuesday, Oct. 7, in Washington, D.C.
“It’s about bringing people and resources together to say, ‘Yes, there’s a need and these are the benefits to the program we had — nutritionally, from a physical activity standpoint and certainly from a mentorship standpoint,’” said Davis, who has taught adapted physical education for more than 25 years.
“We need to keep physical education in the federal special education law, we need to keep money flowing to those programs that serve kids with disabilities and we need to provide quality professionals — highly qualified teachers — to serve those kids.”
For years, Davis’ work has underscored the value of partnerships between the College’s future physical education teachers and health-focused programs for local children. The Cortland Homer Afterschool Mentorship Program (CHAMP), for example, pairs pre-service teachers with local children at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex. CHAMP serves as a two-day per week after school program that emphasizes physical activity, nutrition and homework help for all area youth, including those with disabilities.
Spotlighted recently in the Society of Health and Physical Educators Momentum newsletter, CHAMP gave SUNY Cortland a jumpstart on its ICDI efforts. The College was selected in 2009 as one of six sites nationwide to pilot the ICDI program and received three years’ worth of funding to collect data on physical activity, fitness and nutrition.
That information was reported to the President’s Council on Fitness, Health and Nutrition and will serve as a starting point for discussions at the White House summit.
“We pulled (ICDI) into our existing CHAMP and adapted programs because both are inclusive,” Davis said. “And if it’s good for one, it’s good for everybody.”
In addition to an hour of physical activity and homework help, children can receive one-on-one or small group mentoring through the CHAMP program. They learn to control their behavior through positive instructional strategies taught by SUNY Cortland students, such as counting down or signaling for attention. Children who struggle socially or who show sensory processing disorders often see tremendous results.
When the program started, 15 to 20 children were mentored by SUNY Cortland physical education students. Today, approximately 65 youths receive quality afterschool care each week provided by students from a variety of majors, including physical education.
“We’re really pushing to make sure there are highly effective and highly qualified teachers to provide physical education services for children with disabilities,” said Davis, who also serves as the national chair of the Adapted Physical Education National Standards (APENS) Program and oversees the national standards and certification process in adapted physical education sponsored by the National Consortium on Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities (NCPEID).
In addition to directing SUNY Cortland’s CHAMP and ICDI efforts, Davis leads the College’s Sensory Integration/Motor Sensory (SIMS) Movement Lab as well as regular weekend workshops in adapted physical education. He created School Partnerships in Adapted Physical Education, a service program that connects graduate students studying the discipline with school districts to serve children with disabilities, and Project LEAPE, a leadership course that involves undergraduate students taking on service-learning community projects to address the needs of children and adults with disabilities.
He also has formed several school partnerships with an adapted physical education focus and has partnered with SUNY Upstate Medical University to develop the Fit Families Program that addresses the needs of children with spina bifida and their families.
Davis has received the Rozanne M. Brooks Dedicated Teacher Award and was presented the William A. Hillman Distinguished Service Award by the NCPEID.
He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education from California State University at Chico and a Ph.D. in adapted physical education from the University of Virginia.