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LJISD Sports & Learning Complex Empowers Special Needs Community

Posted Date: 04/10/2019

The objective of the La Joya ISD Special Education Department is to improve student achievement by providing increased access to learning environments that allow special needs students the right to be educated with non-disabled peers, using the six co-teaching approaches.

A powerful tool to assist with reaching the department’s goal has been the usage of the La Joya ISD Sports and Learning Complex. This facility has given the special needs community multiple opportunities to experience activities that all children enjoy, no matter the limitations.

“During the school year, our students have participated in enrichment camps at the planetarium where they were able to view short films on marine life, to then participate in connecting science activities,” said Andrea Garza, LJISD Special Education Director. “… the students were mesmerized with the planetarium and loved working on projects where they used computers, manipulatives, and hands-on activities.”

For scheduled campus visits to the planetarium, special needs students in self-contained classrooms were also included with their grade levels.

Additionally, the Sports and Learning Complex provided two special needs nights in the summer of 2018 where parents were able to feel comfortable knowing their special needs child was safe while having fun.  The Lifeguards on duty helped students navigate their way through the recreational area and carefully carried non-ambulatory students up the stairs to slides; and even rode down the with them. The attention to detail and student care is definitely something La Joya ISD prides itself in delivering - upholding the District vision of Educational Excellence: The Right of Every Student.

“The joy on the students’ faces when they visit the complex is priceless.  Our students are treated with dignity and respect, and on top of that, they are being exposed to experiences that are not available to special needs students anywhere else in the entire Rio Grande Valley! We are fortunate to have this facility available to our community,” added Garza.

With parent permission, the district’s special needs population also attended swimming lessons (specifically designed for special needs students) during the month of August - providing a necessary life skill to students. To further enhance the natatorium experience, the department also hosted the first-of-its-kind Special Olympics swim meet in the month of March which allowed students to enjoy the sport and compete to earn medals.

Aside from the aquatic opportunities offered, the annual autism social was also a big success for the special education community. Hundreds came out to kick off Autism Awareness Month with family fun activities that included planetarium films, tennis courts, moon jumps, free hot dogs and kite flying. 

“We look forward to many more enrichment events at the Sports and Learning Complex that will continue to provide our students with opportunities to help them increase their knowledge in science, technology and life skills,” Garza said.