105 Campus Drive, Oneonta, NY 13820
All children need exercise and fresh air, but it takes experienced and creative professionals to develop new ways to encourage children with developmental disabilities to get moving, and that is where the professionals for the Adaptive Physical Education (A.P.E.) program at the School at Springbrook come in. Jon Philby and Daryl Birdsall are the two masterminds behind this innovative physical education program.
Jon has been teaching in the A.P.E. program at Springbrook since 2011. He specializes in using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) methods that include emphasis on gross motor skills—such as catching, throwing, and hand/eye coordination—as well as goal-driven social and team-engagement strategies. He says that “each student is different and learns at a different pace, and it’s always really exciting when someone achieves a goal that we’ve been working on for a while.”
For thirteen years, Daryl has been teaching in the A.P.E. program at the School at Springbrook. Daryl’s specialty focuses more on lifelong skills, and uses teaching techniques that include behavior management in a public or community setting, riding a bicycle, and team sports. He enjoys spending as much time as possible outdoors or on community outings with the students. Daryl is also the leader of the Springbrook Adventure Club, which has given several students the opportunity to do zip-lining, rock climbing, ropes course navigation, and biking and hiking trips.
Right: From left to right: Mary Beth Horan, Christopher Horan, Daryl Birdsall
The A.P.E. Program at the School at Springbrook provides unique learning opportunities for children with developmental disabilities. One recent success story involves Daryl teaching a student how to ride a two-wheeled bicycle. Daryl realized that with the proper equipment, he could safely teach some of the students how to ride a two-wheeled bicycle. After doing some shopping around, he was able to find a device that bolts onto any two-wheeled bicycle, allowing for one person to walk behind the bike and hold the handles while the rider learns how to peddle and keep balance. In just five half-hour-long sessions, Christopher—the first student to learn with the balance bar system—was riding around the gym on his own.
Overjoyed by the news that Springbrook had taught her son how to ride a bike, Christopher’s mother, Mary Beth Horan, paid Daryl a visit and presented him with gift for the Adaptive Physical Education program. "We are so thankful for you and for the School at Springbrook. You helped Christopher gain the confidence necessary to learn how to ride a two-wheeled bicycle. Now, we can go on family bike rides together—something I never expected would be possible," Mary Beth told Daryl, with tears in her eyes.
Stories like these are what keep Daryl and Jon motivated and dedicated to their work at Springbrook. For Daryl and Jon to continue providing community outings and maintain quality, adaptive equipment, which is critical to A.P.E’s success, funding is key. Jon adamantly says, “The grants and gifts we get are what make all of this possible. We would not be able to give these kids such quality without those funds.”
Left: Jonathan Philby (left) coaches a Springbrook Scorpions basketball teammate