Physical activity is vital for a student’s development and lays the foundation for a healthy and active life. At Gateway Michael Elementary School, all students – regardless of academic or developmental levels – have the opportunity to feel included and supported in health, especially in school. 

A Commitment to Inclusion
At Gateway Michael Elementary School, we serve medically fragile students with serious health problems and multiple disabilities, ages three through 14. We pride ourselves on our commitment to ensuring that, with accommodations, all students are given the opportunity to engage in activities in which their same-aged peers participate.

Established over 80 years ago to educate a largely ignored group of children, Gateway Michael continues to provide opportunities for children who require extra help to make progress in an educational setting. Our location – adjacent to Gateway Elementary and Gateway Middle schools – allows our students to be integrated with general education students for meals, classes, recess, assemblies or other activities.

Excelling at Adapted Physical Education
All students deserve the right to have rewarding experiences in physical education with or without adaptations. We seek to create that opportunity for the students of Gateway Michael.

For example, during “hide and seek,” we set up mats around the gymnasium to create hiding spaces, ensuring there is enough space to allow for wheelchairs or walkers to pass through. We pair kids from Gateway Elementary with our non-ambulatory students so they can push them around while having fun, together.

Music is another avenue we utilize to create an accessible and fun environment. In addition to playing it at the beginning and end of each class, we often play “freeze dance,” whereby students move or dance when the music on and freeze when the music stops. This type of activity gives every student the opportunity for physical activity and a chance to move their body at their own pace without restrictions!

District-Level Emphasis on Health and Wellness
Our district, St. Louis Public Schools, has supported our efforts by prioritizing health and wellness across all campuses. With support from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, we’ve implemented a strong district wellness policy that guides us in creating and sustaining healthy changes for students and staff.

Offering breakfast in the classroom, installing water stations, building a ‘walking’ track and supporting the development of an accessible community garden are just a few of the ways the district has elevated our commitment to wellness and inclusion – and we’re getting nationally recognized for it!

In 2019, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation names Gateway Michael Elementary one of “America’s Healthiest Schools.” We were one of only eight schools nationwide – and the only one in Missouri – to receive the highest level of distinction.

Engaged and Involved Community
The results of our efforts to promote health, wellness and inclusion are evident. Students have developed strong friendships with peer role models. Within our three schools, staff are collaborating more on our shared goals. Parents are taught how to advocate for their children in school and in the community, in turn resulting in increased engagement. Above all, our students are challenged, nurtured and supported to maximize their growth and development.

Prioritizing inclusion is a must for all schools. Starting with the core values of respect, acceptance and cooperation allow you to create an environment that appreciates differences and helps everyone focus on what they can accomplish.