Program and Fitness Professional Awareness
Written by Valerie Lawson.
This month I learned that there is a need for adapting and marketing fitness-related programs and fitness professional services for persons with disabilities and/or chronic conditions. (Note that the definition of disability and/or chronic condition includes persons with a variety of health conditions, including obesity, arthritis, diabetes, heart conditions, and stroke, as well as disabilities such as spinal cord injury, intellectual disability, and more.)
If you have designed, coordinated, or run a program that is accessible and offers activities for a variety of users, and/or are a fitness professional, make sure that you are reaching your targeted audience. The NCHPAD programs database (http://www.ncpad.org/directories/15/Programs) can be part of your marketing plan. For example, if your program is designed specifically for older adults and has open enrollment, this information can be added to the NCHPAD database. Additionally, make sure that your promotional materials include users of all ability levels in the photos and accompanying text. If you have equipment that can be used by a variety of persons, show the variety of users demonstrating activities with the equipment. In other words, include your entire population or membership in the plan when promoting your program.
That said, some fitness professionals profess to have little experience, education, or knowledge about working with persons with disabilities and/or chronic health conditions, and about adapting an existing fitness program. However, once we discuss working with persons with disabilities such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis, they realize that they do serve people with disabilities on a daily basis. This emphasizes a need for more information and/or education on disability awareness.
I have also learned that information and awareness are just as crucial for consumers with disabilities. Persons with disabilities and/or health conditions who are interested in obtaining information or training on how to be physically active on a daily basis may have difficulty locating a trainer, facility, or educator, which may be their barrier to engaging in regular physical activity. Furthermore, consumers with disabilities and/or health conditions who are currently involved in a fitness program and/or working with a fitness professional that they would recommend must ensure that this information is in the database so that it can benefit others. Subsequently, more awareness on how every body can use these databases to their benefit is necessary.
We need to work together as a community to ensure that all people who are interested in physical activity can locate programs and fitness professionals in their neighborhoods. Making this information available is the first step to help Americans increase their physical activity levels. In turn, this may lead to the next step of developing additional programs and training more fitness professionals to meet the needs of Every Body.
Please send your comments and feedback to Gillian Goodfriend at firstname.lastname@example.org.