Wellness Opportunities Critical for Children with Special Needs

January 05, 2014

Cameron Sports rounded

The concept of wellness has many applications in our society but for the sake of this blog, it is defined as physical activity that results in a level of fitness that impacts immediate quality of life, health over the long term and recreational benefits.  Getting children involved in sports and exercise early in life is critical.  As the old adage goes, many life skills, such as a healthy lifestyle is likely “caught rather than taught.” In a study by Rimmer, Braddock and Marks (1995) it was noted that less than 10% of adults with developmental disabilities engage in physical activity a minimum of three days a week. So parents and caregiver’s need to get out and get moving early and often to break this mindset.  Taking family walks or biking outings are a great way to get everyone off the couch and outdoors breathing fresh air and getting much needed vitamin D! Here are a few links to local parks and trails that are fun and unique!

Palmetto Trail – Hike the entire trail or just the Peak to Prosperity trail and get to cross 11 different train trestles!

Sesquicentennial State Park – Hike or bike the trails and enjoy the slides and canoeing!

Congaree National Park – Become a junior ranger! Print this book and walk and learn about all kinds of native animals.

Just because a child has a physical disability, parents and others may feel as though the child can’t play organized soccer or baseball but what studies have shown, is that while the goals of sports participation and exercise may need to be individualized for a child with a disability it can result in equal benefits compared to the general population.  Take time to find out about leagues in your area that cater to children with developmental disabilities.  Important benefits of sports and exercise include the development of self-esteem, social integration, and the learning of social and team skills. All greatly beneficial to the child with a disability.

Click here for National Adaptive Programs 

Friendships and a sense of community are forged and developed in the process of becoming well and is an unintended benefit to exercising together with peers.  If you are struggling to find organized sports leagues, why not gather up neighbors to throw frisbee with or play some relay games with on a Sunday afternoon!

Modify these relay suggestions for a fun afternoon!

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