Create Opportunities for Individuals with a Disability to Be Healthy and Active with I Can Do It!

By: Holli Richmond, Executive Director of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition

Nearly 50 percent of adults (aged 18-64 years) with a disability do not participate in aerobic physical activity compared to 25 percent of adults without a disability, according to the CDC, and are more likely to have chronic diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke, or heart disease than their active peers. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that all individuals, including those with a disability, avoid inactivity and work towards national guidelines, whenever possible.

Two Teen Girls Practice CheerleadingChildren with a disability face challenges engaging in regular physical activity and sometimes struggle to maintain a healthy weight. Limited availability of accessible programs and lack of resources to support physical activity and healthy eating habits are some of the unique barriers these individuals face in the pursuit of a healthy, active lifestyle.

The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition (PCSFN) recently relaunched the I Can Do It! (ICDI) model to address the needs of more than 56 million children and adults with a disability. PCSFN supports ICDI sites nationwide by offering free resources and assistance during program planning, implementation, maintenance, and sustainability. Find out more about ICDI below and learn how you can bring an ICDI site to your town!

I Can Do It!

ICDI is a customizable, eight-week model that leverages Mentor-Mentee relationships to inspire individuals with a disability to lead a lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and healthy eating behaviors. Health promotion programs using the ICDI model serve Mentees of all abilities, engaging participants in a range of sport, recreation, fitness, and healthy eating activities.

ICDI can be implemented in multiple settings, including K-12 schools and school districts, colleges and universities, and community-based organizations. Through mentorship, ICDI encourages participants to:

  • Engage in regular physical activity;
  • Learn about healthy eating;
  • Set weekly, personal physical activity and healthy eating goals; and
  • Earn the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+).

The I Can Do It! model utilizes PCSFN’s PALA+ program to support Mentee’s weekly goal setting. The PALA+ healthy eating and physical activity goals are based on guidance from the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. PALA+ enables all Mentees to make incremental progress at their own pace towards the healthy eating and physical activity goals that they choose each week. Mentees set and track personal goals each week during the ICDI program, culminating with recognition for their commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle with PALA+.

The ICDI model is available for FREE. To learn more about ICDI or to become an ICDI Site, visit

Make a Difference

PCSFN works with national and regional ICDI Partners, as well as local ICDI sites, to create an inclusive community that upholds the importance of a healthy lifestyle for everyone. Even if becoming an ICDI Site isn’t a good fit for you right now, you can still join the celebration. Help PCSFN spread the word about ICDI and the ICDI Evaluation Incentive Opportunity using the resources on our Promoting ICDI webpage. Together, we can create inclusive, healthy communities for everyone!

Spread the Word! Share this post and promote I Can Do It! to your networks with this sample tweet: Healthy goals are for everyone! Find out how you can join @FitnessGov to help transform the lives of youth + adults w/a disability through @FitnessGov’s FREE #ICanDoIt Model.