With nearly a decade of proven success, Special Olympics Arizona’s inclusive health education program, Healthy LEAP into Fitness (HLIF), allows people with and without intellectual disabilities to experience increased physical activity, improved daily nutrition, heightened social engagement, and better emotional well-being.
The program is modeled to include health education, class activities, and supplemental resources. Designed to be taught in an eight-week format, HLIF focuses on four pillars (chapters) of health: Physical Wellness, Nutritional Wellness, Emotional Wellness, and Social Wellness. The program includes a Coaches’ Guide, complete with 12 health lessons, activities and resources to practice with their team, who each receive Player Playbook, where they are able to take notes, complete activities, and set personal goals.
In 2018, SOAZ piloted the HLIF curriculum in 5 Unified Champion High Schools and because of its great success, HLIF was adapted and piloted at the Young Athletes (preschool – 2nd grade) and Junior Champions (3rd – 8th grade) level in the fall of 2019. HLIF is now available statewide at all three levels: Young Athletes (preschool – 2nd grade), Junior Champions (3rd – 8th grade), and Game Changers (high school – community).
Physical Wellness: Physical wellness is much more than just exercise! Physical wellness is anything and everything having to do with our bodies. It is keeping our bodies clean, safe, and well rested. When we are exercising, it’s important that we explore a variety of movements. Variety helps us maintain interest. There is nothing worse than forcing ourselves to be active in ways we don’t enjoy.
Nutritional Wellness: Nutritional wellness is one of the most important parts of our health. The food and drinks we put into our bodies impact how we think, feel, and behave. It’s a challenge to eat and drink in a balanced way to get the nutrients our bodies need. We can meet these challenges if we understand how to define healthy eating and if we have access to a variety of healthy foods.
Emotional Wellness: Emotional wellness has to do with our feelings, emotions, and mental changes. It also includes taking action to reach our goals, making healthy life choices, and taking responsibility for our actions. When we are emotionally and mentally well, we’re able to think more clearly and manage our stress in a healthy way.
Social Wellness: Social wellness comes from spending time in large or small groups and often means forming relationships with people in these groups. These relationships can take many forms, all of which have different meanings to us. Relationships are an important part of a person’s life. Having healthy relationships is important, not only for support and guidance but also for fun and safety.