AUCD recently attended the Summit and Research Forum on Improved Health and Fitness for Americans with Disabilities. The event was co-sponsored by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and featured two members of CDC’s Friends of NCBDDD, Jim Rimmer, PhD, principal investigator of the NIDRR-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Interactive Technologies and Exercise Physiology Benefiting People with Disabilities (RecTech), and Amy Rauworth, the Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the Lakeshore Foundation and is the Associate Director of the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD). Success stories from the I Can Do It, You Can Do It! (ICDI) Program were shared, along with innovative approaches based on emerging research findings. With obesity rates being 38% higher for children with a disability, this school-based ICDI effort is critical to engage communities in inclusive physical activity. Team science, a way of learning from multiple disciplines, testing out strategies and implementing what is learned, was highlighted during the research discussion as a way to build relationships and develop methods. One of the key messages of the summit was that exercise is medicine for everyone, including people w/ a disability. To continue this discussion and increase inclusion of people with disabilities in health and fitness efforts, the Commit to Inclusion initiative was launched at the summit. To learn more, visit: committoinclusion.org.
The NY State Department of Health Disability and Health Program is an example of how other states commit to including people with disabilities as an explicit target population in all state public health programs. NY started by looking at the NIH policy on inclusion. Then they moved onto create an inclusion policy for NY State Department of Health efforts. This inclusion policy was used as a guide to tailor specific requests for proposals, such as the Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention effort or the Pediatric Obesity in Health Care Settings program. When you are looking through these RFPs, search “disab” to pick up all instances of how people with disabilities are included as an explicit target population.
Despite a mistaken belief that people with disabilities receive the same or better health care than others, they typically receive less care, sub-standard care, or no health care at all.
This has led Special Olympics to become not just a global inclusive sports organization but also the largest global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities. People with disabilities should have access to the same health and wellness services and be able to achieve the same good health as the general population.
Many of our athletes come to us with neglected health problems. We offer a wide range of free health examinations and care through the Healthy Athletes ® program. At more than 1.4 million free health screening clinics in more than 100 countries, the Healthy Athletes program offers health services and information to athletes in dire need. Through Healthy Athletes, more than 100,000 health care professionals have been trained to treat people with intellectual disabilities, and these health care professionals in turn provide improved care to millions. Special Olympics has also built the world’s largest database of health data for people with intellectual disabilities and its health work is not just helping individuals, it is improving health systems and policies for people with disabilities. Learn more about Healthy Athletes.
The success and impact of Healthy Athletes led to the creation of the Healthy Communities initiative, which provides comprehensive, community-based health and wellness and is generously supported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Golisano Foundation. Read more about Healthy Communities.
Sports and Physical Activity Resources
We provide extensive free information on sports and fitness tailored to people with intellectual disabilities through our Sports and Physical Activity Fact Sheets and Coach Guides.
This is a Special Olympics fitness screening event developed in collaboration with the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA. The goals of FUNfitness include assessing needs in flexibility, strength, balance, and aerobic fitness; teaching exercises to help athletes improve identified areas of need; and educating participants, families and coaches about the importance of flexibility, strength, balance, and aerobic conditioning in overall fitness. More information on FUNfitnesscan be found here.
This is an innovative sports play program for children ages 2-7 with intellectual disabilities and their peers, designed to introduce them into the world of sports. The benefits of Young Athletes have been proven worldwide. First and foremost, these activities help children thrive physically, cognitively and socially.
This is an education and sports based strategy powered by an engaged youth community that increases athletic and leadership opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities. While promoting physical activity and making it fun, Project UNIFY® also creates communities of acceptance for all.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports every day around the world. Through work in sports, health, education and community building, Special Olympics addresses inactivity, injustice, intolerance and social isolation by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, which leads to a more welcoming and inclusive society. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org.
More than 21 million US adults 18–64 years of age have a disability. Physical activity benefits all adults, whether or not they have a disability, by reducing their risk of serious chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. Only 44% of adults with disabilities who visited a doctor in the past year were told by a doctor to get physical activity. Yet adults with disabilities were 82% more likely to be physically active if their doctor recommended it.
Working age adults with disabilities who get no aerobic physical activity are 50 percent more likely to have a chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, stroke, or heart disease than their active peers, according to a Vital Signs report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most adults with disabilities are able to participate in physical activity, yet nearly half (47 percent) of them get no aerobic physical activity. An additional 22 percent aren’t active enough.
The key findings of the report include:
- Working age adults with disabilities are three times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer than adults without disabilities.
- Nearly half of adults with disabilities get no aerobic physical activity, an important protective health behavior to help avoid these chronic diseases.
- Inactive adults with disabilities were 50 percent more likely to report at least one chronic disease than were active adults with disabilities.
- Adults with disabilities were 82 percent more likely to be physically active if their doctor recommended it.
Aerobic physical activity can help all adults, including those with disabilities, avoid chronic disease. Physical activity is for everybody – and everybody can help.
- Adults with disabilities can talk to their doctor about how much and what kind of physical activity is right for them.
- Doctors and other health professionals can recommend aerobic physical activity options that match each person’s specific abilities and connect him or her to resources that can help each person be physically active.
- States and communities can bring together adults with disabilities, health professionals, and community leaders to address resource needs to increase physical activity.
CDC has set up a dedicated resource page for doctors and other health professionals with information to help them recommend aerobic physical activity to their adult patients with disabilities.
Across the country, AUCD network members – University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities training programs, and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers – are conducting research and creating programs to improve the health of people with disabilities through improved health care and inclusive public health efforts.
The Oregon Institute on Development & Disability at Oregon Health & Science University worked with the Oregon Office on Disability and Health to improve the health of Oregonians with disabilities. Two of their specific projects include increasing access to breast cancer screening for women with disabilities and improving accessibility of smoking cessation programs.
University of Montana Rural Institute researchers are helping to set a national agenda on health and disability, contributing to the 2012 State of the Science Conference on Outcomes and Quality of Life in Community Living and Employment in Halifax, Nova Scotia and collaborating to publish an article entitled The State of Science of Health and Wellness for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities journal.The authors found that historically, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have experienced health disparities related to poverty, race, gender, and aging; and lack of access to high quality medical and dental care and to public health and other wellness programs. Additionally, people with IDD need more efficient, cost-effective ways to access health and wellness activities to prevent or treat obesity and other chronic health conditions. Targeted training of health care providers to meet the specific needs of persons with IDD is also warranted.
At the AUCD Annual Meeting in November of 2013, researchers from New York, New Jersey, and Tennessee presented a symposium on the provision of appropriate and quality health care to individuals with IDD including, youth who are transitioning from pediatric to adult health care. They presented information how LENDs and UCEDDs are focusing on health care for adults and transitioning youth through their functions of research and evaluation, training and technical assistance, materials development and dissemination, and policy analysis to make a state and national impact.
Public Health is for Everyone is an inclusive planning toolkit for public health professionals. It’s an online toolkit which serves as a one-stop resource to increase the capacity of public health professionals to create programs that benefit entire communities, including people who have disabilities. The PHEtoolkit provides public health professionals with resources to enhance their planning efforts in key issue areas.
At the annual meeting of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Senator Harkin spoke about his vision for the disability community and the goals he thinks the community should pursue. To learn more about those goals, read Senator Harkin’s remarks.