The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education (COE) Department of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Science (KRS) received a $1.2-million grant to increase the number and quality of teachers providing physical activity services to school-aged children who are in need of such services. The project, “Advancing Leadership Opportunities for Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Islanders in Adapted Physical Education (ALOHA),” is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.
Project ALOHA will run for five years under the direction of COE Dean Nathan Murata and KRS Assistant Professor Allison Tsuchida.
“This award means that we can really revitalize our Master’s in Adapted Physical Education (APE) program,” Tsuchida said. “In turn, it will help local teachers and teachers from the Pacific Rim, particularly those in rural areas of the state, to advance their knowledge and skills in working with students with disabilities in physical education and physical activity.”
As part of the project, pre-service trainees from the U.S. territories throughout the Pacific Rim will be prepared to serve their respective territories.
“There are nearly 20,000 children with disabilities in grades K–12 throughout the U.S. Territories in the Pacific Rim and rural Hawaiʻi with about half of these children in need of APE services,” Murata said. “This means the responsibility of providing appropriate and quality physical education for these children lies with the general physical educator or special educator.”
KRS is committed to training sufficient numbers of certified APE teachers through recruitment, retention, graduation, placement and ongoing support to assure that all students with disabilities throughout the Pacific Rim have appropriate physical education services available to them in keeping with their individualized education program objectives and goals.
The Master of Science in Kinesiology training program will be offered through distance and hybrid formats. Candidates will be enrolled in a one-year APE graduate program which has a 30-credit pathway. Funding for Project ALOHA will, in part, assist the scholars through tuition waivers and stipends to help defray costs associated with their university fees.
“Ultimately, more students with disabilities here in Hawaiʻi, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will receive quality adapted physical education from a highly qualified and certified adapted physical educator,” Tsuchida added. “This award will also hopefully help us to expand physical activity opportunities for students with disabilities in extracurricular and interscholastic sports as well.”