UNCW Part of National Initiative to Improve Health of Americans with Disabilities

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

"Make some waves, make some waves,” shouted UNCW graduate student Jordan Weber as he made his way around the group of children tugging at the ends of a parachute.

Weber, who is enrolled in the Educational Leadership program at UNCW, was instructing the children as part of the I Can Do It, You Can Do It program (IDIC) at UNCW. The program encourages a one-on-one mentoring relationship over an 8-week period between trained mentors and the mentees. Mentors are students majoring in physical education and health, exercise science, special education, recreation, sport leadership and tourism management. The multi-disciplinary make-up of the class provides a unique learning experience for both the mentees and mentors. The program also offers information to the participants and their families about nutrition. 

UNCW’s program is under the direction of faculty member Sue Combs and Weber. A national leader in adapted physical activity, Combs was recently invited to attend the White House Summit and Research Forum on “Improved Health and Fitness for Americans with Disabilities,” October 6-7. The conference focus is “Improved Health and Fitness for Americans with Disabilities.” Weber is enrolled in the Educational Leadership graduate program at UNCW and has been involved in the ICDI program since the beginning.  

“The I Can Do It, You Can Do It program is the only one of its kind in North Carolina and is one of nine in the nation of activity-based programs for those with disabilities,” said Combs. “Not only does the program develop healthful living for the mentees, but creates learning experiences for UNCW students as well.”

Initiated in 2004 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Disability and promoted by Michelle Obama, the program aims to combat the increasing obesity rate in America. Recently, the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Nutrition (PCFSN) endorsed ICDI and charged the program to increase access for all Americans regardless of ability to lead a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and good nutrition.