Lecture to explore empowerment through activity

Lecture to explore empowerment through activity

02/06/2024 

Physical activity can empower children with disabilities, making them stronger and more confident to navigate the world independently, according to Amanda Tepfer, an assistant professor in SUNY Cortland’s Physical Education Department.

“Physical activity can engage participants to not only respond to physical challenges but also engage in problem-solving behaviors that contribute to success in everyday life situations,” Tepfer said.

“With the right resources, their opportunities arise so they can engage in after-school sports, recreational activities, activities with their family, friends and their typical developing peers. It opens more doors for them.”

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Amanda Tepfer

Tepfer will discuss physical activity through the lens of inclusive physical education and sport, on Wednesday, Feb. 21, as part of the 2023-24 Rozanne M. Brooks Lecture Series.

Her talk, “Empowerment Through Sport and Fitness,” will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Moffett Center, Room 115.

The lecture continues the series’ theme of “The Culture of Power,” which explores humanity’s age-old struggle for power through different lenses.

The interdisciplinary talks are free and open to the public. Seating will be limited, so attendees are advised to arrive early to secure a seat. A reception to welcome Tepfer precedes the talk at 4 p.m. in the adjacent Brooks Museum.

Since joining SUNY Cortland in 2018, Tepfer has used the university’s adapted physical education community programs, which serve local children with special needs, to help SUNY Cortland physical education majors earn their required hours of fieldwork observing motor development.

Local parents have told her frequently that their child with a disability, placed in an adaptive activity setting, has become much more independent overall in life. She’s even seen a few graduates of the adaptive physical education programs progress to engage in Paralympic sports.

Since fall of 2022, she has co-directed HealthyNOW, a community program SUNY Cortland has operated since 2010 aimed at fighting childhood and teenage obesity.

“Oftentimes, unfortunately, children with disabilities are not given the same access to sports and physical activities as other school-age individuals, youth and adults,” said Tepfer, the course coordinator for SUNY Cortland’s courses in Adapted Physical Education and Sport and  Gymnastics in the School Setting.

“So, they are often left with the feeling they cannot do these things or that they should not do things,” she said.

“As an educator, advocating for them, and teaching them how they can participate and how activities can be modified so they will be able to compete successfully, informs them of what they can do.”

Tepfer engaged in working with children with a disability at SUNY Brockport while she earned an M.S. in exercise science, adapted physical education, while also becoming certified to teach adapted physical education.

She received her Ph.D. in exercise and sport science with a focus on movement studies in disability from Oregon State University. She worked for private secondary schools in Ohio and New York state, including as a teacher of preschool adapted physical education for 10 years.

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Physical education majors spar with faculty and local residents in an adaptive physical education activity.

While earning her doctorate, Tepfer was honored in 2013 as the Doctoral Student of the Year by the Adapted Physical Activity Council of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. That same year, she was selected to attend the Emerging Scholar Symposium of the National Consortium for Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities and took part in the International Volunteer Program’s International Symposium of Adapted Physical Activity Conference, Istanbul, Turkey.

She is an author and reviewer for Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and a reviewer for Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. Her articles and abstracts have also been published in academic journals including Animals, Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, Research Quarterly in Exercise and Sport, Palaestra and Journal of Sport and Exercise Physiology. She has presented her research at professional gatherings across the U.S. and in Greece, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

The remaining Brooks presentations in “The Culture of Power” series are:

Tibetan Buddhism, China and the Politics of Tension — Allen Carlson, an associate professor in Cornell University’s Government Department and director of Cornell’s China and Asia Pacific Studies program and advisor of its East Asia Program. March 20.

Framing Truth: Exploring Power Dynamics in Documentary Filmmaking — Samuel Avery, an associate professor in SUNY Cortland’s Communication and Media Studies Department and coordinator of Cortland’s annual Blackbird Film Festival. April 10.

The Brooks Series honors the late Distinguished Teaching Professor of sociology and anthropology emerita at SUNY Cortland, Rozanne M. Brooks, whose donated special collection of ethnographic objects to the Sociology/Anthropology Department established the Brooks Museum in 2001.

The 2023-24 Brooks Lecture Series is co-sponsored by the Cortland College Foundation and Cortland Auxiliary. For more information, contact SUNY Distinguished Professor Sharon Steadman, series organizer and Brooks Museum director, at 607-753-2308.


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