Research News Flash
Given the high rates of inactivity and obesity in children with disabilities, programs are needed to help combat these issues and improve health and fitness. One avenue for providing such programming is the afterschool setting. Approximately eight million children in the US participate in afterschool programming; however, options for children with disabilities are limited.
The purpose of this study was to examine the anthropometric, physical fitness, and health and wellness knowledge outcomes associated with participation in an afterschool park-based program in children with disabilities. The program was conducted during the school year over a 10-month period. The program, called Fit-2-Play™, was comprised of structured active recreation and health and wellness education, and was conducted every afternoon from 2:00 to 6:00 pm. Participants included 52 boys and girls (13.7 ± 4.7 years) with various disabilities (primarily developmental) who were able to participate at a functional level similar to that of similarly-aged children without disabilities. Outcome measures included body weight, BMI, hip and waist circumference, skinfolds, sit-ups, push-ups, 400m run, PACER test, and the EmpowerMe4Life health and wellness knowledge scale. Outcomes were assessed by BMI groupings of normal weight (n = 25) and overweight/obese (n = 27).
Analysis of pre-post test data revealed no significant change in anthropometric measures; however, physical fitness and health and wellness knowledge increased in both groups. Results suggest that an afterschool park-based program can be designed in such a way to improve fitness and healthy living knowledge in children with disabilities.
Haney, K., Messiah, S. E., Arheart, K. L., Hanson, E., Diego, A., Kardys, J., Kirwin, K., Nottage, R., Ramirez, S., Somarriba, G., & Binhack, L. (2014). Park-based afterschool program to improve cardiovascular health and physical fitness in children with disabilities. Disability and Health Journal, 7, 335-342.