Background Children with disabilities are more likely to be overweight or obese and less likely to engage in physical activities versus their peers without disabilities. Objective The effect of a structured afterschool program housed in a large county parks system on several obesity-related health outcomes among children with disabilities was examined. Methods Children/adolescents with a developmental and/or intellectual disability ages 6-22 (N = 52, mean age 13.7 years) who participated in an afterschool (either 2010-2011 or 2011-2012 school year) health and wellness program called Fit-2-Play™ were assessed. Pre-post comparison of outcome variables (mean height, weight, waist/hip/midarm circumference, fitness tests, and a 9-item health and wellness knowledge assessment) via general linear mixed models analysis was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the program for normal and overweight/obese participants. Results Normal weight participants significantly improved pre-post mean number of push-ups (9.69-14.23, p = 0.01) and laps on the PACER test (8.54-11.38, p < 0.01) and the overweight/obese group significantly improved the number of sit ups (7.51-9.84, p < 0.01) and push ups (4.77-9.89, p < 0.001). Pre-post mean health and wellness knowledge composite scores significantly improved for all participants (p < 0.01). Conclusions Parks-based afterschool programs can be effective community resources for instilling physical health in both normal weight and overweight/obese children with disabilities. More studies are needed to ascertain whether community-based afterschool health and wellness programs can be implemented and sustained across this population.
- Physical activity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health