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Office on Disability

Physical Fitness and Health: (I Can Do It, You Can Do It!) ensuring access to good nutrition, healthy lifestyles and access to physical fitness and wellness opportunities for persons with disabilities

An exciting nation-wide initiative supporting physical activity for children and youth with disabilities

Sponsored by the Office on Disability at HHS in Key Partnership with the NIH Division on Nutrition Research Coordination and the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and in Organizational Partnership with more than 60 disability-based organizations.

Questions? Contact the Office on Disability at 202.401.5844

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What is I Can Do It, You Can Do It!?

The Goal: To improve the health of the six million American children and youth who have disabilities by encouraging increased physical activity and healthy nutritional behaviors -- a major priority of the Secretary and U.S. Surgeon General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Partners: The HHS Office on Disability (OD) initiated The National Initiative on Physical Fitness for Children and Youth with Disabilities also known as I Can Do It, You Can Do It!. Two key Partners with the OD are (1) the NIH Division of Nutrition Research Coordination/National Institutes of Health and (2) the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.  Other Partners include more than sixty disability-based organizations dedicated to improving the lives of Americans with disabilities (see page 3).

The Mechanism: Collaborating disability-based organizations across the country link physically fit mentors (who may or may not have a disability) with children and youth who have a disability. The mentors provide training and guidance to help the children become physically active by accumulating minutes of physical activity daily to earn the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) and, with continued encouragement, strive to earn a Presidential Champions Award by accumulating points for a bronze, silver or gold medal.

The Five-Year Implementation Plan

  •  May 26, 2004: Inauguration and Celebration of the National Initiative in the Great Hall and on the patio of the Hubert Humphrey Building (see attached program).
  • June - September 2004: Continued monthly meetings with supporting organizations regarding National Initiative implementation within their respective chapters to create programs in each State and Tribe of the Nation.
  • Fiscal Year 2008: An evaluation system will be developed to monitor and assess the progress of the program; including research on the efficacy of the I Can Do It program for children and youth with all categories of disabling conditions to be conducted with the support of NIH’s Division of Nutrition Research Coordination in association with the University of New Mexico.  Supporting organizations will administer the Physical Fitness for Children and Youth with Disabilities program. To date, more than 12 organizations have successfully implemented the I Can Do It program and report great interest in continuing. The next step is to institute the I Can Do It program throughout the United States to reach as many of the estimated 6 million children and youth with disabilities.

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How can I take part in the President's Challenge and earn the awards sponsored by the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports?

The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports has a free motivational awards program, the President's Challenge, designed to help all Americans age six and above, including people with disabilities, make and keep a commitment to regular physical activity. The awards are open to people with disabilities on the same basis as for those without disabilities. There are two awards offered for the I Can Do It, You Can Do It program. The Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) motivates children age 6-17 to begin a physical activity program by being active for 60 minutes a day/5 days a week for eight weeks (or 30 minutes a day for adults age 18 and over). Participants choose from over 100 activities, and track the activities online or on paper. After eight weeks of continuous activity, participants are eligible for a PALA patch/certificate or a PALA lapel pin. The online program is available at A paper log for the PALA can be obtained by calling 1-800-258-8146. After earning a PALA, participants are encouraged to continue their active lifestyles by earning another PALA or by striving to earn a Presidential Champions award. This program is for young people age 6-17 that are already active more than 60 minutes a day/5 days a week (more than 30 minutes a day for adults). The Presidential Champions Awards are available online only. Log on to; choose activities; and earn points for each activity logged based on the intensity of the activities and the amount of time spent being active. Participants strive to accumulate points to earn a bronze, silver, or gold medal or lapel pin. The PALA and Presidential Champions programs are free, but there is a nominal charge to purchase the optional array of awards.

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Organizational Partners include:

Albuquerque, New Mexico Public Schools
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
American Association for Active Lifestyles and Fitness
American Association on Mental Retardation
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Association on Health and Disability
American College of Sports Medicine
American Council of the Blind
American Dance Therapy Association
American Diabetes Association
American Foundation for the Blind
American Heart Association
American Network of Community Options and Resources
American Obesity Association
American Physical Therapy Association
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
American Therapeutic Recreation Association
Amputee Coalition of America
Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
Boundless Playgrounds
Bowling Proprietors of America
Brain Injury Association of America
Council for Exceptional Children
Diabetes and Wellness Foundation
Disabled American Veterans
Disabled Sports USA
Easter Seals
Exceptional Parent
Family Voices, National Office
Kevin Saunders Health and Fitness Foundation
Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health
Little People of America
Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Multiple Sclerosis Association of America
Muscular Dystrophy Association
National Alliance for Accessible Golf
National Alliance for Hispanic Health Centers for Providers
National Association for the Deaf
National Association for Developmental Disabilities Councils
National Association of State Directors of Special Education
National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research
National Consortium for African American Children
National Council on Independent Living
National Consortium of Physical Education and Recreation for the Disabled
National Council on Disability
National Council on Independent Living
National Down Syndrome Society
National Industries for Severely Handicapped
National Mental Health Association
National Recreation and Parks Association
National Spinal Cord Injury Association
National Wheelchair Sports Fund
Paralyzed Veterans of America
Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Inc., Boston
Rehabilitation Services Administration, US Department of Education
Shake-a-Leg, Miami
Slippery Rock University
Spina Bifida Association of America
The Arc of the United States
U.S. Association of Blind Athletes
United Cerebral Palsy Association
University of Illinois at Chicago, National Center on Physical Activity and Disability
University of New Mexico
University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse
United Spinal Association
United States Golf Association
USA Deaf Sports Federation
Veterans Administration Medical Centers
Washington, DC Public Schools
Young America Bowling Alliance

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How do I become a mentor?

You contact the Office on Disability and tell them that you are a physically fit adult who wants to mentor a child with disabilities. The Office on Disability will ask one of the participating organizations to:

  • send you an application,
  • meet with you,
  • provide you with orientation and training,
  • match you with a child to mentor, and
  • help you develop a physical fitness plan for the child.

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How do I find a mentor?

Contact the Office on Disability and tell them that you want to become physically fit through the I Can Do It, You Can Do It! program. The Office on Disability will put you in touch with one of the participating organizations that can provide you with a mentor and help you begin an eight-week period of increased physical activity and eating healthy food.

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How can my organization participate?

You tell the Office on Disability that you are interested in becoming a partner in the I Can Do It, You Can Do It! program. You will be asked to:

  • participate in annual technical assistance and training activities,
  • adopt and apply a policy to ensure reasonable participation by children with any type of disability,
  • use program material provided by the Office on Disability, and
  • assure that local affiliates understand their roles and responsibilities.

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How do I find information on adapted activities?

Check out these excellent sources of information:

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