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Our Classes

What do the classes offer?

As the name implies, SPORTS PLUS classes offer not only what for many children is a first or first positive sports experience, but also much more. SPORTS PLUS helps children awaken and reach their potential. SPORTS PLUS classes are comfortable places for children and parents to learn sports, swim, fitness and social skills and processes that can last a lifetime. Just as importantly, SPORTS PLUS classes provide children an opportunity to utilize sports and play with role models and peers to help them develop social skills, confidence, self-esteem, friendships, responsibility, the desire to try new things and last but not least have fun in a program that they can get excited about and call their own. SPORTS PLUS classes use a “reverse inclusion” model where typically developing siblings play in each class as player/role models or “assistant coaches”. This model provides a unique opportunity for brothers and sisters to play together that was not previously available. It also provides an opportunity for neurotypical siblings to meet, play, socialize and form important bonds with each other at the same time. SPORTS PLUS classes are a place where children can have role models. Even more importantly, SPORTS PLUS classes are a place where children can become role models and be encouraged and cheered on every step of the way.

SPORTS PLUS was founded on the premise that the children it serves need and deserves the best in innovative and multidisciplinary sports and recreation programs that are specifically tailored to both their strengths and weaknesses. SPORTS PLUS classes utilize a curriculum and approach derived from thousands of hours of research and experience by a team of special educators, therapists, trainers, parents and coaches that is constantly reevaluated and updated. The classes take some of the best elements of existing typical and special needs sports programs and modify and combine them with SPORTS PLUS own unique skill and team development techniques, equipment and approaches. SPORTS PLUS classes are designed to give participants the traction they need to meaningfully navigate and enjoy the worlds of sports and fitness for today and for the future.

Every SPORTS PLUS program features a highly trained team of coaches that work as a unit drawing upon their many years of collective experience in special education teaching, speech, ABA and other therapies, personal training, coaching, children’s entertainment and collegiate and professional level athletics to help each child flourish. Our coaches constantly seek to personally engage each child on their own terms while providing consistent encouragement and positive reinforcement. They recognize that success and progress for each child in the class is highly individual, but always seeks to have each child make at least one step forward in each class. The coaches delight in being able to share in the smile, laughter or high five of a participant that serves as a measure of their success. For some children this means being able to participate for the entire class or doing so with little or no parental participation. For others this means discovering and developing physical and other skills to enable them to play a sport or swim. For some others it means learning to play with peers and developing “game” skills and teamwork. And for a few, it has already meant refining existing skills to a point that has enabled them to “graduate” to neurotypical sports programs. For most all, it has also meant developing social skills, friendships and connections that have flourished outside of the program as well.

In order to try to maximize the experience of our participants, each class has a player to coach ratio of no higher than four to one and often as low as three to one or less. Our swim class ratios are no higher than two to one. This permits extra help or additional challenges to be provided as needed to players with a wide variety of skills in a single class. The same coaches are present at each class during a session in order to provide consistency and encourage social connections. Parents are encouraged to participate with their child, offer verbal encouragement or just observe as they believe would best benefit their child during the classes. The coaches meet every week and discuss the progress of each child every week in order to maximize individual results.

While SPORTS PLUS classes utilize a wide variety of different techniques and games, they are structured within a common framework. Each class begins with whole group activities, often including an obstacle course with each segment specifically designed to teach a different sports skill. Every class also has a small group segment where groups of two to five children work closely with coaches on particular skills and activities. Each “land-based” class ends with a specially structured soccer, baseball, floor hockey, volleyball or basketball game designed to be enjoyable, successful and challenging for all participants. Teamwork, social skills, sportsmanship and most of all FUN are stressed at all classes. After all, our participants are no different than anyone else in that we are all most capable of achievement when we are engaged and having fun. The end result is a successful, rewarding and exciting physical and social experience for children and their families.

Each season of classes culminates with an award ceremony where every player is presented with a participation award as they are cheered on by their peers and families. A special sports or social opportunity is also a part of each season. Slapshot, the Washington Capitals mascot appeared, played and helped us hand out awards in the finale of all of our Winter 2008 sessions. Members of DC United, the Washington Major Indoor Soccer team appeared at the finale of our Spring 2007 classes to meet, greet and play with all of our players. Members of the Baltimore Blast and Washington Freedom and DC United’s mascot Talon, appeared and offered instruction and fun in our Fall 2007 classes.

Another unique aspect of SPORTS PLUS classes, Kids Learning from Kids, successfully premiered in our soccer classes this spring. This initiative provides a two-way learning and social opportunity between SPORTS PLUS participants and eleven to thirteen year old neurotypical players from elite soccer teams. The elite teams play-in with our participants in clinics directed by SPORTS PLUS to give them the valuable opportunity to learn from “non-adults”. The elite players not only help teach our participants but they also learn from them as well. They experience what it is like to face more than the usual challenges and gain valuable awareness and insight into the ability of our players that helps to bridge their respective worlds based on first hand contact and similarities. Visits this spring included the U12 MSC Elite girl’s team from Montgomery County, Maryland and the U16 Albertson Academy boy’s team from Great Neck, New York.

SPORTS PLUS classes offer sports, fitness and social opportunities as they should be. The classes provide a positive and fun environment to try new things, face and overcome challenges, increase self-esteem and self-confidence and develop sports, fitness and social skills that benefit our participants far beyond athletic fields, gyms and pools. We train for life.