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NCPAD 's Profile


National Center on Physical Activity and Disability
United States

About Me:

Jenny Carlton, NCPAD BloggerJenny Carlton, M.Ed., is from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. She graduated from Kent State University with a master’s degree of education in rehabilitation counseling. She also attended Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, where she received her bachelor’s degree (major in psychology, minor in business). Jenny is an Information Specialist for the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD) in Chicago.

Jenny enjoys the outdoors and keeping physically active. She believes that everyone should try new activities, especially recreation, sports, and leisure pursuits. As a graduate intern at Kent State University, she was the adaptive sports program coordinator. Her job was to introduce a variety of physical activities and implement them into programs so that students with disabilities had opportunities to try them. Jenny’s favorite activities include downhill skiing, kayaking, rock-climbing, hand-cycling, and hiking.

Carolyn Lullo, NCPAD BloggerCarolyn Lullo is a Graduate Assistant at NCPAD and a Doctoral Student in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work and interests are related to promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities in physical activity settings and programs. Carolyn's experience in blogging is quite limited, but she embraces any opportunity to engage in conversation about inclusive physical activity.

Recent Posts by NCPAD

Decreasing Sedentary Behavior and Physical Inactivity by Moving More and Sitting Less

by NCPAD January 30, 2013

The True Meaning of Sedentary

The start of a new year sparks considerable conversation on losing weight, exercising more, and eating a healthier diet. While these are great stepping stones to leading a healthier lifestyle, they may not be enough to ward off chronic health conditions and mortality. Recent research findings are revealing that sitting too much during the day can be detrimental to an individual's health regardless of whether or not they meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Today's society is consumed with advanced technology and a focus on convenience, which ultimately contributes to sedentary lifestyles among Americans. Fortunately, this sedentary lifestyle can be counteracted by adding in more movement throughout the day.

Health of People with Disabilities

There are approximately 54 million Americans with some type of disability. This amounts to about 20% of the population. Many consider health and disability and oxymoron, but in fact, persons with disabilities can lead healthy, active lifestyles when given the appropriate inclusive environment to succeed. The rate of obesity is far greater for both children and adults with disabilities than for the general population. 56% of people with disabilities do not engage in any leisure time physical activity, and 87% of people with disabilities experience at least one secondary condition. Self-reported health status is classified as poor in 37% of persons with disabilities compared to 8% in persons without disabilities. Physical inactivity and sedentary behavior is a national epidemic, but noticed more particularly in persons with disabilities due to few health professionals promoting regular physical activity for persons with disabilities, and a lack of community and health promotion programs inclusive of persons with disabilities. In order to develop a healthy, inclusive community, health messaging must include persons with disabilities. Below are strategies for creating an action plan to combat sedentary behavior and physical inactivity for everyone by adding movement in to the daily routine.

An Action Plan for Everyone

Simple adjustments to the daily routine can help make activity a default versus just an option. Get going and move more for an overall better health status.

In the workplace

  1. If you are able to, try actively communiting to work by riding a bike or walking/wheeling. Inclusive communities that utilize Complete Streets are a win-win for everyone!
  2. Make sure to always have a bottle of water at your desk. This will put you one step closer to achieving your recommended daily amount of water intake and will force you to have to get up to go to the bathroom.
  3. Try walking/wheeling meetings instead of seated ones. The activity might just spark some new found creativity!
  4. Utilize your lunch break for physical activity. Cut your lunch break in half so the other half can be filled with some kind of exercise. Midday activity helps you to wake up your brain, and may help to avoid that 2:00 p.m. burnout. Physical activity options include starting a walking club with coworkers or going to your local gym for a midday group fitness class.
  5. Pace around your office while on a conference call.
  6. Instead of emailing a co-worker, get up from your desk and converse in person.

In daily life

  1. A pedometer is a great tool to monitor physical activity throughout the day. Achieving 10,000 steps may not be appropriate for everyone, so wear your pedometer to track movement on day one to achieve a baseline, and aim to increase that baseline each day.
  2. Pets are great life companions and assets to your health. Take Fido for a walk daily to fit in some extra activity.
  3. There is no shame in having a favorite television show, but try moving around the house or cleaning up while watching. You can also do simple exercises during commercial breaks, such as crunches, squats, or push-ups.
  4. Almost any chore can be turned into a heart-pumping activity. Turn on some upbeat music and get working.
  5. Take advantage of family time together on the weekends, and find a park to play in, a fun race to enter, or simply take a stroll or bike ride around the neighborhood together.

The Big Picture

Aside from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommended amount of physical activity per week, it is imperative that individuals simply move more throughout the day to reduce sedentary behavior and its associated health detriments. The Physical Activity Pyramid is a great way to start assessing daily movement levels in all individuals. Looking at physical activity in these categories makes it seem more attainable and included as a factor in every person's life. Now take a stand for a better health by moving more and getting active!

The Importance of Adapted Physical Education in Schools

by NCPAD February 29, 2012

Guest written by Tamika Jones, M.Ed., CAPE

Organizations across the United States are heavily pushing for more physical activity in physical education (PE) classes, after-school programs and community-based programs for children. This will also mean a greater push for the availability of adapted physical education (APE) services, which are so important for youth with disabilities.

The President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition reported that physical activity is 4.5 times lower for children and youth with disabilities compared to their peers without disabilities. The purpose of PE is for students to learn, practice, and master skills that will allow them to be physically active for a lifetime. While PE has the same purpose, APE curriculums allow for students to work on a more individualized curriculum that focuses on each student's strengths, needs, and interests.

As a trained adapted physical educator, I have noticed that students experience a higher level of success while in APE, as well as in general PE classes with one-on-one assistance. Students who were enrolled in my self-contained APE classes really benefited from the smaller class size that offered personal adaptations and a more defined class structure. Most importantly, APE services provide students with ample opportunities to increase their confidence in a physical activity setting and to improve their overall self-esteem.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA") is a Federal law designed to ensure that all children with disabilities, from birth to 21 years of age, have free appropriate public education available to them. This includes early intervention, special education, and related services designed to meet their individual needs. IDEA requires that PE services, specially designed if necessary, must be made available to every child with a disability receiving free public education. In accordance with the law, the term "physical education" includes special education, APE, movemen

t education, and motor development. IDEA states that if specially designed physical education is prescribed in a child's individual education program, that the public agency must be responsible for the child's education by providing the necessary services directly or making arrangements for services to be provided through other public or private programs free of charge to the child and parents.

Students who may not qualify to receive special education services, but still require disability-appropriate educational services may still be eligible. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that the public agency responsible for the child's education provide students with disabilities-appropriate educational services designed to meet the individual's needs. Under these requirements, a student with a Section 504 plan can quality for APE services as well.

In today's world, where the number of youth with disabilities is growing, it is important that these individuals are provided with the same quality educational experiences as their nondisabled peers. Physical education services should be no different. APE provides youth with disabilities a means to master physical education goals. The individualized PE program allows students to move at their own pace, while in a PE setting that fits their individual needs. By modifying instructions and equipment, students with disabilities are able to achieve success while building strength, endurance, and skill levels that will hopefully keep them physically active for the rest of their lives.

About the Guest Writer

Tamika Jones, M.Ed., CAPE, received her Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI and Master of Education in Kinesiology in Adapted Physical Education from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. She is a certified Physical Educator with the Adapted Physical Education National Standards. Tamika began working at the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability as a Visiting Information Specialist in October 2011.


Policy | Schools

Encouraging Individuals with Disabilities to Participate in Physical Activity

by NCPAD August 31, 2011

Recruitment is one of the biggest challenges that I have noticed regarding physical activity programs for people with disabilities. I experienced this first hand several years ago, when I was developing adaptive sports and exercise programs for students with disabilities at Kent State University. I remember I was very excited for the opportunity to provide such programs to students with disabilities, and also to have have students try activities that they did not think they could do, or that they knew existed.

With the help of the fitness coordinator and student disability services, I was able to set up a variety of adaptive programs - chair aerobics, yoga, aquatics, archery, rock climbing, skiing and an introduction to wheelchair basketball. I assumed that once these activities were available, students would be lining up to join. The truth was, hardly any of the students voluntarily signed up for any of the programs, and the rest had to be encouraged.

Some students are simply not interested in these types of activities, but others, I believe, just had a lack of knowledge - not knowing these programs exist, and not knowing that they can participate in sports and exercise activities even if they do have a physical disability. Also, sports and exercise are generally introduced early to children. But due to the competitive nature of sports, children with disabilities often don't get to reap the benefits of physical activity at all, or are exposed to them much later in their lives.

Temple University in Philadelphia, PA has one of the most creative programming ideas that I've come across. It's called the Workout Buddy Program, and is one of many available from their Adaptive Recreation Department. The goal of the Workout Buddy Program is to provide an opportunity for students with disabilities to experience various sports and exercise activities. Students with disabilities who want to participate are partnered up with a fellow student/volunteer, and they participate together in whatever activity they choose - tandem walking/jogging, handcycling, aquatics, weight traning, cardiovascular conditioning, etc.

Since many individuals with disabilities are not aware of adaptive sports/recreation programs, there needs to be introductory programs that expose young individuals with disabilities to various physical activities. This group also needs to learn about how exercise and sports can benefit them physically and emotionally, and understand that participating in physical activity improves their health and wellbeing. Universities and colleges in particular should be providing such programs for their students since the setting is ideal for fostering new experiences and self-growth.

What other ways can colleges and universities encourage students with disabilities to join sports, exercise, or recreation programs? Also, should there be more focus on attitudinal change from the nondisabled student population?

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