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A Coach for Inclusion: the Ani Perez story

This docu-reality series follows a diverse group of special needs students at American Sr. High School in Miami and their Teacher/Coach Ani Perez. Viewers experience an insider’s view of the challenges these students with disabilities face in their daily lives, in and out of school, and how Ms. Perez’s Adapted Physical Education and sports programs impacts them. She seeks to empower them by instilling discipline, respect and the “If I can do it, you can do it” commit to inclusion program.  The goal is to increase opportunities for children with disabilities to lead a healthy active lifestyle where they live, learn and play. This program is a mission of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN), which is to engage, educate, and empower all Americans across the lifespan to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and good nutrition.

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TEAM

Following these guidelines, Coach Perez has developed an “athletic inclusion model” that incorporates the health benefits of fitness. They have taken the motto to a new level: We can do it, you can do it. The “model” has successfully integrated students with disabilities with other general education students in team sports.  She has created the AP Runners team to participate in school and community races, such as  Kids Run Miami-Miami Marathon and the M-DCPS Superintendent’s 5K Challenge.   This has been one of Coach Perez’s main goals and the motivational key that has transformed so many of her students. They are learning to be active, healthy, and they are improving their eating habits as they adopt good nutrition to complement their physical activities.

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Ani Perez

We will follow them at home, in the classroom, at field trips, P.E. classes, community events, the races and their awards banquet.  As we get to know our student protagonists and their families, we also have a window into Ms. Perez’s team of parent/guardians, faculty and staff for the academic school year.  We witness how Ms. Perez’s teaching style has led to success in motivating her students through health-related physical fitness.  This series, as well as its companion digital platform CPWSN, will show how the impact of a higher level of fitness within the adaptive physical education program can change lives.

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Haydee Santana [Student]

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Denson Santos [Student]

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Kristian Rendon [Student]

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Former All-American college athlete, and nationally-recognized Teacher/Coach, Ani Perez has been teaching at American Senior High School in Miami Florida for over 30 years. In 2014 she participated in the White House Summit and Research Forum on Improved Health and Fitness for Americans with Disabilities.  As a representative of American Senior High School, she collaborated with Dr. Jayne Greenberg in the implementation of the “I Can Do It, You Can Do It” Commit to Inclusion Program in Miami-Dade County Public Schools. 

She served as Department Chair for Physical Education and has devoted her teaching career to Adaptive Physical Education. In 2005 Ani Perez was awarded the Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) Mainstream Teacher of the Year. Ani has been directly involved as an M-DCPS Coach/Mentor on several specialized programs which promote awareness in health and fitness for students with disabilities:  Special Olympics, Sports Program for Students with Disabilities, Water-Related Sports Programs, Gardening Club for Students with Disabilities, the “I Can Do It, You Can Do It” Active Lifestyle Program, and the Miami famous  AP Runners.  She attended Barry University where she received the “All-American” honoree and other awards. In 2001 she was recognized by the Miami Herald as the “Miami Herald Coach of the Year”.  Born in Miami of Cuban parents, she earned her Master’s Degree in Exceptional Student Education at Florida Memorial University.

Coaching People with Special Needs

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