With the goal of challenging her Year 12 Certificate III in fitness students, Louise Harcourt created a gym program last year which sees Year 12s become personal trainers with the school’s special ed students as their clients.

“[I wanted] to give the Year 12s the opportunity to build rapport with our [special education] students at the school, and also to expose them to the challenges of clients with special needs,” Harcourt explains.

“Pre and post-fitness testing were administered and over the year the ‘clients’ achieved the goals set and their fitness levels significantly increased,” special education teacher Toni Busbi writes in the school newsletter.

According to Busbi, the program introduced her students to the gym environment, which will give them the confidence and skills to access this form of leisure pastime independently.

Using the school’s own gym, Year 12s took their clients through exercises appropriate to their individual needs, including sit-ups, push-ups, step-ups, free weights, running, walking and cardio boxing.

The gym program fits nicely into the Certificate III in fitness curriculum, which involves students training specific populations of people with different fitness goals and requirements.

And while ticking the curriculum box is one thing, Harcourt says the program was also a hit with all students involved.

“...The Year 12 students, [they] absolutely loved it, they were asking to obviously do more of it,” she says.

With the successful program running for a second time this year, Harcourt has also had requests from special education students to be involved again.

“...On both sides they responded really well to it,” she says. “We’ve had great response from the students in Years 11 and 12, so we’ve got three classes, two in Year 12, one in Year 11, and we’ll be running the program with the special education unit again this year.”