Health Education for 100 Youth with Disabilities

by Special Olympics Arizona, Inc.


Healthy Lifestyle Education And Practice (LEAP) increases healthy behaviors (exercise, nutritious foods, hydration, sun safety) and decreases unhealthy habits (screen time, sugary drinks, empty calories) in children with intellectual disabilities. This project will provide Healthy LEAP curricula, sports equipment and all related materials for 100 special needs Preschool children in Arizona schools in 2017. These children will be empowered to overcome health risks inherent in their disability.
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Children with intellectual disabilities (ID) are 30 times more likely than their typically developing peers to live a sedentary lifestyle, be obese and suffer associated health risks. These youth are often excluded from mainstream recreation and have historically had their ability to make informed personal decisions underestimated and undermined. Current research shows that even young children with ID can be empowered to be more healthy through education, but appropriate resources are lacking.


In Arizona, children with ID qualify for free public Preschool at two years and nine months old, but these programs do not include physical or health education. Developmental Preschool is the perfect opportunity to reach these children early. Once children master basic skills like balance, running, throwing and jumping a whole world of new activities opens up for them. Teaching children they have the power to affect their health is key to developing youth who seek out healthy choices.

Long-Term Impact

Empowering children early can have an impact on health outcomes for a lifetime. The Healthy LEAP curriculum incorporates best practices for effective health education recommended by the CDC: teaching functional health information (essential knowledge); shaping personal values and beliefs that support healthy behaviors; shaping group norms that value a healthy lifestyle and developing the essential health skills necessary to adopt, practice, and maintain health-enhancing behaviors.


More Information

Organization Information

Special Olympics Arizona, Inc.

Location: Phoenix, AZ - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Tracy McCarty
Phoenix, AZ United States

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