By Carleton Rivers, RD
Educational materials on health and physical activity are geared toward the typically developing adolescent. These materials are not necessarily appropriate for adolescents with intellectual impairments. A group led by Linda Bandini, PhD, RD, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, believes that adolescents with intellectual disabilities (ID) would benefit greatly from nutrition education programs that specifically addressed their cognitive and communicative needs.
That’s where Health U’s curriculum comes into play. Health U’s curriculum differs from other health education programs by providing an interactive and captivating learning experience tailored to the ID population.
The Health U curriculum is made up of ten, 60-minute lessons created for adolescents and young adults with mild to moderate ID. The program is designed to be taught by a registered dietitian or an educator who has had at least two college courses on nutrition. The 10 lessons cover topics like MyPlate, fruits and vegetables, fats and proteins, sugar, how to plan a balanced meal, making healthy choices, snacking, portion sizes, and eating out. Each lesson includes a short discussion of new concepts, a hands-on learning activity, time to engage in movement or physical activity, and a taste test. Lessons are concluded with a “Take Home Ideas” sheet which helps students share what they learn in class with their parents or caregivers. The program manuscript also includes a section on how educators can best implement each lesson on a range of different budget types.
The Health U curriculum is an in-depth and practical program for students with ID to learn about nutrition, physical activity, and living a healthy lifestyle in a way that caters to their specific learning needs. For more information, contact Dr. Linda Bandini at firstname.lastname@example.org.
L. Bandini, PhD, RD, Curtin, C., MSW, Fleming, R., PhD, Maslin, M., Med, and Scampini, R., MS, RD. Health U. Nutrition Curriculum for Teenagers with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.