Physical Activity Mentoring

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Spring Program Dates: February 16 to April 22, 2018

The primary goal of the UW-La Crosse program is to increase physical activity time and opportunities for children and adults with disabilities through a unique mentoring relationship with a college student (similar to the "Big Brothers, Big Sisters" concept, but uses physical activity as the primary mode of interaction and instruction).  The program also provides nutrition education for mentees, parents, guardians, and mentors. 

Physical activities are planned to meet the needs, interests, and abilities of mentees.  Activity could be used to develop skills for general use or for a specific program in which a mentee is currently enrolled or planning to participate in the future.  

In addition to individualized mentoring sessions, group wellness events may be periodically scheduled. These group outings bring together many mentors and mentees to socialize and partake in fun physical activity.  Group wellness outings are scheduled far in advance, and usually take place on weekends.  Parents/guardians may attend these group outings.   

             Rope course outing            

 Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the benefits of the physical activity mentoring program?

  • Increased physical activity levels and opportunities to play and move.
  • Learn new physical activities, sports, and games.
  • Practice skills taught in school in community-based programs and facilities.
  • Gain experiences in new settings for social skill development.
  • Develop a meaningful relationship with a college student mentor.
  • Earn awards from the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sport.
  • Enhance life skills that can be used at home, school, and in neighborhood.
  • Assist future teachers and other professionals gain valuable experience.

How do I enroll someone in the program?

  • Complete and submit mentee application
  • Contact the Program Coordinators: Maggie Griggs and Brittany Thomfohrda (785-8695) or Director, Dr. Garth Tymeson (785-5415), if you have questions.
  • Program staff will acknowledge receipt of your application, and provide information about available mentors for start of the program.

What are my requirements as a parent/guardian?

  • Once accepted into the program, communicate with mentor to arrange weekly physical activity days/times.
  • Complete program survey and evaluations.
  • Assist with communication between mentor and program staff.
  • Be active with your child in at least 3 additional out-of-school physical activity times each week.
  • Encourage daily physical activity and proper nutrition habits.
  • Communicate as needed with mentee and program staff.

How long is the program and how many hours each week?

  • The mentoring program is composed of 8-week sessions.
  • Each week, mentors provide a minimum of two, 1-hour activity lessons.
  • Parents should provide 3 additional out-of-school physical activities per week.
  • Mentees are eligible to participate for more than one 8-week session.
  • Mentors often continue their relationship with mentees beyond the formal program.

What does the program cost?

  • There is a minimal charge of $20.00 per semester for the physical activity mentoring program.
  • A total of $30.00 is charged for two mentees from the same family.
  • Depending on activities and facilities, parents may need to pay additional costs such as bowling fees, admission to recreational facilities, and other minimal costs.  This is NOT common, but possible.
  • Mentees must provide any necessary physical activity clothing and shoes (i.e., sneakers, swim suit, nutritious snacks for longer sessions, etc.).

Who are the physical activity mentors?

  • UW-La Crosse college students serve as physical activity mentors.
  • Students from all academic majors and areas of study are mentors.
  • Mentors are prepared by program staff before participation.
  • All mentors must successfully pass criminal background checks.
  • Mentors must have current first aid and CPR certifications.

How are the mentees and mentors matched?

  • Staff reviews mentee application for abilities, interests, and experiences.
  • Available mentor applications are reviewed by staff to determine the best match to achieve individual and program goals.
  • Matches are reviewed on an on-going basis to ensure success.
  • Program staff initiates and facilitates meetings to introduce mentor, mentee, and parents.

What types of physical activity can be done in program?

  • Activities depend on interest, ability, age, and goals for each mentee.
  • Both indoor and outdoor activities can be included.
  • Gross motor physical activities are emphasized - NOT fine motor.
  • Activities often coincide with seasons (e.g., snow shoeing in winter).
  • Types of physical activities are very broad, but individually focused.
  • Basic skills such as catching, throwing, kicking, and batting can be practiced.
  • Skills for sports are practiced - soccer, basketball, t-ball, bowling, etc.
  • Swimming, biking, hiking, exploring playground equipment, and skating.
  • Outdoor winter activities could include snowshoeing and sledding.
  • Parents and physical education teachers' suggestions are often used.
  • Physical activities are numerous and varied to meet individual needs.

What equipment is available for physical activities?

  • The program provides most necessary physical activity equipment.
  • Staff and mentors communicate to determine equipment availability.
  • Mentors contact program staff to reserve, pick-up, and return equipment.
  • Parents may provide equipment for some activities.
  • Some equipment is obtained at physical activity sites (i.e., bowling or roller skates).
  • Based on availability, parents can check-out equipment to use at home.
  • Check out our Equipment Page for ideas and locations of equipment

Where can physical activities take place?

  • On-campus sites: Eagle REC Center and Mitchell   Hall (i.e., swimming pool, indoor climbing walls, tracks, and wellness centers).                                                    
  • Persons must be seven (7) years or older to use the EAGLE REC Center.
  • Off-campus sites include indoor and outdoor facilities.
  • YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs, and bowling  facilities are used.
  • Outdoor parks, biking/walking/running/hiking trails, and courts.
  • All physical activity sites must be approved by program staff.
  • With permission, activities could take place at home or near home.

Who provides transportation for the program?

  • Parents/guardians are responsible for transportation to physical activity sites.
  • College student mentors may travel a maximum of 10 miles to meet mentees at their home.
  • College student mentors are NOT allowed to transport mentees in any program activity.  Insurance regulations do not permit us to allow this.
  • Mentors can meet mentees at their homes or physical activity sites.
  • Mentors and mentees can bike or walk to activity sites.

What are group wellness/physical activity outings?

  • Budget and time permitting, group wellness activities may take place.
  • Wellness outings bring many mentors/mentees together for activity.
  • Group outings include ropes courses, hiking, sledding, fishing, etc.
  • Based on the group outing, bussing may be provided.
  • Group wellness outings are planned by program staff and scheduled far in advance usually on weekends.
  • Parents are encouraged to attend group wellness outings.      


Whom do I contact with questions about the mentoring program? 

  • Program Office - 108 Mitchell Hall on the UW-La Crosse campus  
    Center on Disability Health and Adapted Physical Activity                                    
  • Maggie Griggs and Brittany Thomfohrda, Physical Activity Mentoring Program Coordinators (785-8695;
  • Dr. Garth Tymeson, Program Director (785-5415;