Volume: 3, Issue: 1


Adaptive Touring in Rehabilitation and Integration
Пикалов В.И. [about]

DESCRIPTORS: Special education; physical education; adaptive touring-including hiking, trekking, orienteering, nature walks, etc; personality disorders; limited abilities young adults; touring program guidelines, procedures, results; Special Olympics; individualization of instruction.
SYNOPSIS: Adaptive touring contributes to a healthy life style for limited abilities young adults. The contact with nature, physical activity, teamwork, and specific skill development which touring provides enables the individual student to make tremendous strides in self-esteem and self-reliance growth. Participation in the Special Olympics competitions helps team members to set goals, systematically develop preparatory skills, and provide rewarding recognition for achievement.



Physical exercise and sports, when utilized in physical rehabilitation and social recreation, are the most efficient tools in the existing range of social welfare services for limited abilities people. These activities seem to be most appropriate for developing a “healthy lifestyle” approach which includes the essential activities of an individual, a team, or a social group. In fact, physical exercise and sports perform many important functions in society and persons who suffer from a wide range of physical and mental disorders may readily participate. The universal character of physical recreation is revealed in its orientation towards the development of a person’s physical, aesthetic, and moral qualities; in its organization of community service and leisure activities; in its role in physical and psycho-emotional rehabilitation; and in its development of communication among all group participants.

This article will look at the Rehabilitation Center for Children and Young Adults with Limited Abilities of the city of Kurchatov in the Kursk Region of Russia and will describe the Center’s “adaptive touring” program as a form of health-improving and educational activities for a group of young people who suffer from personality development disorders.

Program Content and Guidelines

All stages of the special physical education program for Rehabilitation Center students which we have worked out over the years set forth general goals that primarily develop a young person’s initiative and cognitive interest in the world around him/her, in addition to healthy lifestyle skills. To achieve these goals, we employ what we call “individualized touring activities” which are based on an individual approach to the development of basic life skills, self-reliance, socialization, communication, and recreation.

The program carries out health improving and cognitive activities through “adaptive touring” (chaperoned by experts) which primarily affect the young person’s kinetic, creative, cognitive, and emotional aspects as realized in direct contact with the reality of natural and social environments.

The Program includes the following features of the Rehabilitation Center’s activities:

Sports and Cognitive Activities – Touring: Through “adaptive touring,” young, limited abilities people learn basic life safety skills as well as ways to survive in nature. When the students are exposed to nature, teachers help them to sort out the diversity of forms, rules, names, and characteristics of natural phenomena. The students learn to make use of the natural environment for their comprehensive and well-balanced personal development. Touring (organized hiking, backpacking, trail hiking, birding, trekking, orienteering, nature walks, etc.) is part of education. It ensures a link between theoretical guidelines and practical life skills. The natural setting offers immense opportunities for various physical and dynamic activities such as cross country orienteering, problem solving, and the observation of natural phenomena which are rewarding, life-affirming, and aimed at developing student social behavior.

Sport and Social Environment – Competition: The participation of a limited abilities student in various competitions improves physical and kinetic skills; brings immense happiness and vigor; helps with body control and overcoming difficulties. Sport competitions enable special needs people to integrate into social life and be in touch with others. In competitive activities, young people gain an opportunity for self-realization, self-development, self-assertion, and self-determination. Apart from the psychological aspects of participation in sport events listed above, “adaptive touring” boosts all body mechanisms, contributes to motor correction and necessary kinetic compensations thus being a significant factor of social rehabilitation.

Touring Competitions – School of Adaptive Behavior: Various types of social interaction are exercised when a limited abilities student is in the natural environment: discipline, partnership, interrelationship, mutual assistance, responsibility, etc. All this forms a “school of adaptive behavior” which in the long run shapes the conduct of young boys and girls in situations of maximum self-reliance on their actions; in the unassisted organization of their kinetic activity and leisure; in their ability to plan and arrange free time and space with as much benefit as possible.

Social adaptation of special needs people is sometimes complicated by the primary disability which limits their activities in life. As a rule, such a person with severe complications becomes socially and psychologically isolated.

A normal child spends much time playing; attends a nursery school and then a comprehensive school; participates in sports and cultural activities; and matures in his/her family environment. All this makes it possible for the child to acquire the knowledge, skills, and the important cultural guidelines necessary for the successful occupation of his/her place in society.

On the other hand, a child with limited, developmental abilities faces a constricted social environment, so the types of contacts described above are hardly possible. In most cases, such children do not have enough experiences with peer interaction on a playground or in public facilities (nursery school, comprehensive school, playgrounds, parks, cinema, gym, art studios, etc.) where children normally obtain a basic knowledge of the world around them. Special needs children hardly understand even the objects and phenomena they are used to observing in their everyday life. Their knowledge about the world is scattered and inaccurate, and any nonstandard situation may cause them significant problems or even put the child’s life at risk. When the child grows up, the problems also become “grown up problems.”

Our “adaptive touring” program is aimed at equipping limited abilities people with sets of vital cognitive and vocationally-oriented kinetic skills. These will be of help to them in shaping a wide range of basic physical and special qualities. These skills will help them to improve various body systems and functions in their attempts to fully achieve their physical potential while also contributing to the formation, application, and sustainability of their psychological and motor abilities.

When designing the program, we found it useful to divide our limited abilities students into three groups. These we identified as: 1) socially/physically adjusted; 2) incomplete social adjustment; 3) incomplete physical adjustment.

Key Principles of Program Design and Implementation

While working out the program, we focused on the following key principles previously formulated by a number of leading Russian experts for establishing: sustainable motivation to kinetic and cognitive activity; combined physical and psychological development; a personal integrity principle which prioritizes self-realization, self-development, and creativity as well as regular kinetic activity and satisfaction from personal achievements; continual physical and personality formation at all levels of activity; an individualized approach to class and sports (in our case, adaptive touring) organization; a compulsory system for the monitoring of the psychological and physiological characteristics of program participants; clearness and simplicity in the proposed activities.

The “adaptive touring” program is aimed at shaping the limited abilities learner’s development of a healthy life style which includes the following aspects: physiological culture or ability to control physiological processes and improve one’s own potential; physical culture or the ability to control one’s own movements; psychological culture or the ability to control one’s own feelings and emotions; intellectual culture or the ability to control and manage one’s own thoughts; a values attitude to health and healthy life style; a systematic knowledge of health improvement; positive motivational factors to adaptive physical culture and sports; and a basic knowledge of administering first aid to oneself or others.

Prognosis Model/Expected Results

We are convinced, and our conviction is based on many years of observations, that “adaptive touring” results in: the formation of a personality that is better adapted to unstable societal conditions; awareness of self as a biological, psychological, and social being; a conscious decision to maintain a healthy and safe life style as the key requirements of success. “Adaptive touring” encourages a continuous interest in cognitive and kinetic activity; regular physical exercise and sports; a need for self-reliant kinetic activity; self-control and self-development. All of these elements will blossom in increased creative productivity.

We envisage the following results of the program: the improved functional abilities of the body; a higher level of physical development and readiness; a higher priority for a healthy life style; an increased motivation for kinetic activity; a higher degree of self-reliance and initiative in kinetic activity; the growth of parental interest in their child’s achievements and their increased involvement in joint physical and health improvement activity.

The following are several observations and conclusions based on our practical experience. For twelve years, the Rehabilitation Center for Children and Young Adults with Limited Abilities of the city of Kurchatov has been offering various physical and health-improvement services to its students. The adaptive physical education and sports activities of the Special Olympiad program are currently considered by us to be an integral part of our limited abilities, young people’s social rehabilitation and their integration into society. Since 2006, the Rehabilitation Center’s students along with eighth form students from Kurchatov’s Special Education School #7 have been preparing for and participating in the Special Olympiad program. In 2007, the Center held regular training sessions for the Special Olympiad programs. The training classes were sponsored by the Kurchatov Nuclear Power Plant and the “Sodeystviye” (Assistance) Parents’ Club (NGO). Taking into consideration the abilities of its team members, the Center chose to participate in eight sports: swimming; track and field; winter sports (skiing, snowshoeing); ping pong; tricycle racing; bowling; bocce; and adaptive touring.

“Adaptive touring” has been selected as a priority sector in physical and health-improvement work due to its advantages which include: availability – there are virtually unlimited opportunities for dynamic physical activity in the natural environment; accessibility – sports groups active in mainstream touring will always find a place for special health needs people; all-season application – “adaptive touring” can be practiced in any season of the year; diversity of levels and types – training, health-improvement, sport, local history exploration, recreational, etc.; practical use – “adaptive touring” provides the necessary skills for a safe, lifetime activity.

After years of practicing “adaptive touring,” our Center’s students have achieved significant results when they participate in competitions. They have brought home one first prize from the regional competition and a second prize, along with several third prizes from the national games.

All this proves that it is possible and necessary for limited abilities people to be personally involved in society. They possess the potential to participate in all spheres of social life, to be successful in their interactions and partnerships as well as in their labor, their recreation, and all their other types of activity.

Our experiences with participation in various sporting events show that limited abilities people can act not only as objects of, but also subjects of, social rehabilitation by acquiring the norms and cultural values of society along with both self-development and self-realization skills. In other words, they are not only adapting to society by actively participating in the socialization process, but they are also successfully managing their own behavior and coping with life’s circumstances.

Society must admit the fact that there have always been and there will always be people with special needs.  We have to be ready to discover and eliminate current and future obstacles that arise in the paths of special needs people on their way to the attainment of wholesome and successful lives. This includes providing them with a smooth and easy access to all types of social rehabilitation and integration especially those in the realm of physical culture and sports.


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1 Pikalov, Viktor Ivanovich, [In Russian: Виктор Иванович Пикалов], special education physical education specialist, Rehabilitation Center for Children and Young Adults with Limited Abilities, Kurchatov, Kursk Region, Russia.

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