Examples Of Anti Obesity Programs for Children with Special Needs


A look at how anti-obesity programs can serve as an integral component in maintaining healthy special needs children.

article-8_programs-pic-1Special Olympics Health Promotion

Health Promotion, part of the broader Special Olympics Healthy Athletes initiative, seeks to improve the quality and length of life for Special Olympics athletes by encouraging and enhancing positive health behaviors, reducing risky ones, and improving self-efficacy and self-advocacy. Health Promotion provides free screenings to Athletes for body mass index, bone density and blood pressure, as well as education in a range of topics, including both nutrition and physical activity. In addition to screening events, Health Promotion messaging is also integrated into the broader year-round programming of Special Olympics, including coaches training, sports resources and materials, and family education. Through Health Promotion, healthy lifestyle messaging is seamlessly interwoven with sports programming so that health is an equal, necessary component to helping athletes achieve their fullest potential both on and off the field.

Health U.

Dr. Richard Fleming and an interdisciplinary research team at the University of Massachusetts Medical School/Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center have developed an educational program called Health U. The Health U. curriculum consists of 16 sessions that focus on nutrition and physical activity, with materials and activities modified to meet the cognitive needs of the participants. Health U. is currently being conducted as a randomized controlled trial to determine the best approach for promoting weight loss in adolescents and young adults (ages 13-26) with Down syndrome: Down syndrome.

Kids First

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences operates 11 KIDS FIRST sites in centers strategically located around Arkansas, serving 750 children with special healthcare needs ranging in age from six weeks to five years. In their pediatric day healthcare clinics, children diagnosed as having a medical condition known to place them at risk for developmental delays and disabilities receive intensive intervention from an interdisciplinary team that includes nutritional counseling, occupational, speech and behavioral therapy, parent meetings and support groups, and family consultation


U-FIT is a family-centered, family-friendly program based at the University of Utah College of Health designed for children and youth with special needs. By working alongside skilled volunteers, the program is designed to build friendships, increase self-esteem, and improve motor skills and levels of physical fitness while ultimately having fun in a nurturing environment. The key to the success of the U-FIT Program is through family involvement of those who participate. U-FIT tries to meet the goals and needs of the families that are as diverse as those of the participants.

article-8_programs-pic-2Best Buddies

Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to almost 1,500 middle school,high school, and college chapters worldwide. Today, Best Buddies’ seven formal programs – Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies® , Jobs and Ambassadors – engage participants in each of the 50 states and in 50 countries, positively impacting the lives of nearly 700,000 people with and without disabilities around the world. As a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships.

Nickelodeon’s World Wide Day of Play

The World Wide Day of Play is a part of Nickelodeon’s “The Big Help” campaign, which focuses on engaging kids for positive change in four key issue areas: health and wellness; the environment, education and community service. Now in its 8th year, Worldwide Day of Play is an entire day dedicated to active play. On the World Wide Day of Play, the network goes “dark” for three hours, turning off programming to encourage kids to get up, get out and go play! Each year, World Wide Day of Play is celebrated with more than 3,500 local events in all 50 states and in 13 countries. This year, in partnership with AbilityPath.org, Nickelodeon published the How iPlay guide to encourage children of all abilities to get out and play. This guide can downloaded at www.abilitypath.org/wwdop.