January 16, 2015

In 2015, Los Angeles will host the Special Olympics- an event that celebrates individuality and uniqueness, the human spirit, and inclusiveness.  The Special Olympics seeks to empower athletes with disabilities, and to inspire everyone to focus on what we are capable of doing and what we do have, rather than our limitations. 
In the spirit of the Special Olympics, perhaps a New Year’s Resolution should be putting aside time for play with our loved ones.  There are many benefits to play, especially for children.  And for children with disabilities, this is equally true.  

These benefits include:

·         Fostering creativity,
·         Building relationships,
·         Balancing muscle groups
·         Improving self-esteem and coping with stress,
·         Fostering and maintaining independence,
·         Developing “Executive Function”
·         Improving the quality of life.

For more information about the Benefits of Play, visit
For more information about executive function, visit

Here are some resources and insights from various sources that serve to point out the value of play, as well as ways to make it and keep it a priority of your child’s upbringing.

Top Sites for Fitness for Children with Special Needs

Exercises and activities for kids with disabilities …

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presents "BAM! Body and Mind," a site that encourages kids to be more active. Look for advice about staying active when there’s a disability involved, and find stories about athletic achievement. Another page discusses exercising when kids have asthma.

The Alliance for Technology Access describes a variety of activities and settings that can be adapted for children of all physical ability levels, including dance and movement, playgrounds and bicycles.

For activity programs …
Special Olympics offers sports and athletic information for people with intellectual disabilities. Read about their Young Athletes program, designed to help get children as young as two years old be physically active. Use the Young Athletes Activity Guide to find activities, complete with illustrations, demonstration videos and tips. 
For support resources …

National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD) discusses the benefits of physical activity for children with disabilities, as well as the fears and obstacles that come with trying to be physically active.

Be sure to check with a physician before starting any exercise routine with your child, so you will be aware of any risks your child faces and to get familiar with proper safety precautions.

Photo Courtesy Michael Abrams, Stars and Stripes 2011

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