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Dr. Barry Lavay: National Leader in Adapted Physical Education

Published October 16, 2019


The State Council on Adapted Physical Education selected Dr. Barry Lavay, professor for the Department of Kinesiology, for the 2019 Nick Breit Professional Recognition Award. This award is to acknowledge exemplary people, programs or services that have contributed to the field of physical activity for individuals with exceptional needs.

Dr. Barry Lavay

Dr. Lavay is a national leader in the field of Adapted Physical Education (APE). He has made significant contributions as both a faculty member and scholar. For 43-years, he has exhibited the highest standard of professionalism in the field of APE.

As a faculty member, Dr. Lavay prepares university students to teach physical education to individuals with disabilities. He is also the co-director of the After School Adapted Physical-activity program (ASAPP) and Camp Nugget, two programs designed to offer positive on-campus physical activity experiences to children with disabilities. Under his leadership, Camp Nugget has greatly expanded its services and impact on the community.

In the early 1980s, Dr. Lavay pursued a Ph.D. in APE at the University of New Mexico. At that time, the literature specific to behavior management in physical education was quite limited. Dr. Lavay set out to change this by pursuing an academic interest in behavior management for APE. He demonstrated how positive behavior management is an effective tool for APE teachers to empower children with disabilities to learn and enjoy physical education.

“Based on my experiences, behavior management, when applied positively, systematically and artfully, can be a powerful way to motivate and promote student learning,” Dr. Lavay said.

His scholarship in the APE field is prolific. He co-authored over 15 textbooks, textbook chapters, and manuals and has published over 50 juried articles in over a dozen different physical education and special education journals. He is the first author of the co-authored text: Positive Behavior Management in Physical Activity Settings (3rd edition, 2016). His scholarship in behavior management helped to shape the APE national standards— impacting how teachers instruct APE across the United States.

Dr. Lavay has also given scholarly presentations on the international, national, regional and state levels, and provided many in-service training seminars/workshops on the state, and local levels in APE. He has made powerful connections with colleagues in the field, who will carry on the torch of his teachings.

In 2020, Dr. Lavay plans to retire. He will remain an active member of the APE community and will continue to make a meaningful impact through the students he taught, the colleagues he mentored, and the children who benefited from his inclusive and positive approach to adapted physical education.

“My philosophy is that physical education is for everyone,” Dr. Lavay said.

Because of his career-long contribution to APE, children with disabilities have greater access to the joys of physical activity.