F.I.T.T. Column: Inclusive Fitness Coalition Call for Members and Advocates for Change!
The substantial health benefits of regular physical activity are well documented and actively promoted among the general population. Historically, people with disabilities have not been included in these efforts to increase physical activity and promote healthy lifestyles. Yet, the more than 50 million people with disabilities in the United States face even far greater health risks associated with sedentary lifestyles. Even if people with disabilities want to exercise, participate in a sport, go to a gym, or just enjoy the outdoors, they often confront barriers to participation.
The Inclusive Fitness Coalition (IFC) was formed to address policy, environmental, and societal issues associated with the lack of inclusion and access to physical activity among people with disabilities. The mission of the Inclusive Fitness Coalition is to facilitate an expanded coordination of organizations and individuals to address the complexity of personal, social, cultural, political, and economic factors that influence, both positively and negatively, the participation of people with disabilities in physical activity, fitness, sports and recreation.
Currently, the coalition has two active working groups. One is dedicated to play for children and youth of all abilities (http://incfit.org/node/195) and the other is devoted to improving access in health and fitness facilities (http://incfit.org/node/184). The main mission of the health and fitness club workgroup is to motivate owners and managers of health/fitness facilities to develop an environment that is inclusive, providing accessibility to all.
The health and fitness clubs workgroup is chaired by Cary Wing, EdD, Executive Director of the Medical Fitness Association, and is currently comprised of about 15 members from various backgrounds related to health and fitness. The workgroup is currently looking for more members to help achieve both long and short term goals targeting changes in fitness equipment, facilities, programs, practices, staff training, and marketing.
Are you wondering how you can help? There are plenty of quick and easy ways to become involved! Follow these simple steps to make your personal contribution:
Are you already a member of an organization (ANY organization) in your community?
- Spread the word about the IFC and the workgroups. Share this information with fellow members and volunteers - word of mouth is the best publicity!
- You can share the link to the website: http://incfit.org or refer people to this portion of the NCHPAD newsletter.
Do you work for an organization related to disability, fitness, recreation, leisure or sport?
- Talk to your colleagues and get signed up as a member organization. Membership in the coalition is FREE and can connect you to other organizations interested in this movement.
- Organizations may apply to join the Inclusive Fitness Coalition by filling out and submitting this online membership application: http://incfit.org/node/179
Are you a person with a disability who would like to serve as an advocate for change?
- Join the health and fitness clubs workgroup and participate by using this link: http://incfit.org/node/187.
- Join the inclusive play workgroup and participate by using this link: http://incfit.org/node/185.
- Getting involved can be as simple as participating in conference calls or contacting a fitness center or play area in your community to provide resources on removing barriers and increasing inclusion.
Have you come across any resources that helped you to remove barriers to participation in your community?
- Tell us about them! Contact the IFC through our online form (http://incfit.org/contact) with references to resources you have used. You may also email IFC staff directly at email@example.com.
Are you a member of a fitness facility that you consider to be accessible? Have you experienced barriers and spoken with staff to have barriers removed? Do you know of an organization, program or site dedicated to play or health and fitness that demonstrates excellence in inclusion, accessibility, receptiveness, and/or responsiveness?
- We want to hear your story and talk to you! Submit the details here: http://incfit.org/node/196
Are you simply fired up about inclusive fitness, but not sure where to start?
- Visit our website to view resources on various topics related to inclusive fitness or to check out what our members are doing.
- Contact IFC staff using the information below to discuss your future role!
Please use the links above to learn more about the coalition and become involved. Questions, comments or referrals can be directed to Jessica Madrigal at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 312-996-5486. If you wish to subscribe to the IFC listserv in order to submit information for potential postings, and/or to receive announcements regarding coalition activities and inclusive fitness, please go to: http://incfit.org/mailman/listinfo/incfit_listserv_incfit.org
Please send any questions or comments to Jessica Madrigal at email@example.com.