Virginia Beach special needs students are hitting their stride

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – There is something special going on at Bayside High School in Virginia Beach.  A new program is helping special needs students build confidence and work out at the same time.

Almost every morning the students circle the quarter mile track.

“This is fun,” one student yelled.

They have a goal in mind.

“These kids are great and they are generally up for anything,” said Bayside physical education teacher Jennifer Vedder.  “We are able to tell them we are going to go out and walk a mile.  They are like ‘alright.'”

Last year at a conference, Vedder heard about a program call Achilles Kids.  It targets special needs students and tries to give them exercise.  Vedder says she just knew the program had to come to Bayside.

“Some of these kids don’t participate in afternoon sports,” Vedder added.  “They don’t know what it’s like to be involved in programs like that.  This gives them the opportunity to see what it feels like to work really hard for something and be able to achieve it.”

If the kids walk or run what equals a marathon, or 26.2 miles, by the end of the year they get a gift from the Achilles Organization.

“Anybody who hits that 26.2 mile mark gets new sneakers at the end of the year,” Vedder said.

Teachers say it’s great the see the smiles on the kids faces.  The kids are even supporting each other.

“Honestly, I say it every day, this is best part of my day is this class,” Vedder added.

Virginia Beach school officials say right now ten schools are participating in Achilles Kids.  The goal is add even more next year.


Achilles membership is free and welcomes anyone with a disability who wants to run. Click here for more information on becoming a member. There are two separate Achilles Kids programs offered. If you are interested in starting one, contact the organization at (212) 354-0300 x305.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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