Everybody needs physical activity for good health. However, most children do not participate in any organized physical activity during non-school hours. See how inclusive after-school programs can help increase physical activity among children of all abilities.
Children and adolescents ages 6 years and older should perform at least one hour of physical activity each day. This amount of physical activity helps control weight, improves mental health, bone health and fitness, and reduces risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Nevertheless, many children and adolescents are not getting this suggested amount of daily physical activity.
The lack of physical activity only increases for youth with a disability1. In fact, compared to youth without disability, youth with a disability have a 35 percent higher prevalence of overweight and obesity2 with an increased risk of secondary conditions associated with being overweight3.
After-school programs across the country have been working hard to provide opportunities for youth to get the recommended amount of physical activity. The most current data show that 10.2 million children take part in some after-school program and this number continues to rise4.
CDC’s funded partner, the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), is working with one such after-school program, Girls on the Run, to make the program more inclusive of young girls with disabilities.
Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based positive youth development program for young girls in grades 3 through 8. The program uses a fun, experience-based curriculum to teach life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games. Running and physical activity are used to inspire and to motivate the girls, to encourage lifelong health and fitness, and to build confidence through accomplishment. At the end of each 10-week season, the girls, their coaches, and running buddies (family and community volunteers) complete a celebratory 5k running event that gives them a tangible sense of achievement and a framework for setting and achieving life goals.