Play, Parks, and PE!
While we strive to build healthy, inclusive communities with all of our daily efforts at NCHPAD, we also love highlighting programs and organizations that are already actively taking the steps to promote and ensure inclusion in health for people of all ability levels. It is with great pleasure this month that we take an opportunity to highlight the State of Alaska Division of Public Health and its Alaska Health and Disability Program.
Working in collaboration on Alaska’s Get Out and Play Every Day program, they have created several resources that ensure that children of all ability levels feel included and invited to participate in this program, which promotes children in Alaska getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Resources can be found on this website and include verbiage, images, and an outstanding public service announcement that show children of all ability levels, with and without disability, engaging in play and other physical activities to help ensure a pathway to a healthy lifetime. It also features a wide range of resources on topics including types of activity and play, health risks associated with childhood obesity, a blog and calendar of events, and information on sugary drinks and their negative impacts.
Along with all of the valuable information, media, and resources on the importance of play for children of all ability levels, the website also features two additional highlights that build off of that concept: adapted physical education and inclusive parks.
The Health and Disability program has worked with Alaska native Pamela Skogstad to promote and improve adaptive physical education for students with disability across the state. Skogstad holds multiple degrees in adaptive physical education and, in partnership with the Health and Disability program, has trained physical education teachers and teacher assistants of grades K-12 across the state. Training topics focus on adapting physical activities to ensure all students are included effectively; to date, these trainings have benefited over 500 students with disability.
Finally, the site highlights efforts in Anchorage to create more inclusive public spaces - in this case, playgrounds - that can provide play options for children of all ability levels. They highlight Anchorage's awareness and embrace of the concept of going above and beyond the minimum requirements of the ADA to create truly inclusive, welcoming environments. To date, the Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department has created three inclusive playgrounds and has plans to remodel three more based on principles of inclusion.
We highly encourage you to take a look at the wonderful resources created and organized by the State of Alaska that reflect the exemplary efforts it is making to ensure the health and inclusion of its youth.