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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Physical fitness of children and young adults with intellectual disabilities
A person is said to be intellectually disabled when he learns more slowly than others his age. He is not able to master skills that are required to be part of a social community. He lacks basic skills such as communication, self-care and personal safety skills. He is not able to think, reason and remember in a satisfactory way. His attention span is limited and information cannot be used correctly. In order to be able to reach a certain level of intelligence, a lot of support at different levels is required.
It is often seen that people start facing problems related to mental health in their late teens or early twenties. This can have serious consequences on their future education and employment prospects. Students with such problems find it very difficult to adjust when they move away from familiar surroundings and have to co-exist with a different set of people.
The Disability Discrimination Act includes legislative powers to minimize discrimination against physically or mentally disabled persons. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Mental health is fundamental to human existence and has a direct impact on physical well-being.
It is a well known fact that people with intellectual disabilities are not as physically fit as normal people. Children with lower intellectual levels have been shown to have poorer motor control. Participation in physical activities would help improve fitness to a great extent. An environment must be created wherein they enjoy themselves and feel safe at the same time. Health education activities should aim at the development of behavioral skills, and the confidence required to maintain physically active lifestyles. They should be involved in interesting extra-curricular activities such as outings, excursions and visits to unusual spots.
Parents, friends and families should be encouraged to participate in activities to give a feeling of comfort to the children. The staff in-charge of these programs must be well trained so as to impart the correct knowledge and skills in a suitable way. Young people are sure to enjoy recreational activities suited to their age. Physical activity programs should be periodically reviewed and enhanced.
International organizations such as Special Olympics promote understanding, acceptance and inclusion between people with intellectual disabilities and normal people. People’s diverse gifts are put together for the benefit of everyone. People with intellectual disabilities are provided with continuing opportunities to realize their inherent talents, develop physical fitness, show courage and experience happiness and comradeship

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