The I Can Do It! Program (ICDI), released through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (Administration for Community Living), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, is a voluntary school-based physical activity program designed to provide access, equity, and opportunities by facilitating and fostering opportunities for students with disabilities to be physically active for 60 minutes or more a day. To meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd ed., this can be accomplished by accumulating the 60 minutes through Physical Education, Adapted Physical Education, recess, classroom physical activity breaks, active transport to and from school, and extracurricular activities, including a variety of club and sport activities.
Having been part of the original development team in 2004, I had the opportunity to implement the ICDI program in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for 13 years. During my last year, we had almost 1,700 students with disabilities receive the PALA+ award. I really don’t know who got more out of the program, the students with disabilities or their peers who had a greater understanding of students with disabilities. We saw friendships forged, the school climate change in a positive direction as reported by K-12 principals, and a reduction in feelings of isolation and depression on the part of students with disabilities who became a part of the total school environment. This is a win-win program with a HUGE return on investment with very little extra effort!
Since most students in the U.S., including the 7 million students with disabilities, do not have daily Physical Education, the program can be accomplished through a school wide support model. Not only does this provide physical activity opportunities for students with disabilities, but it also encourages teachers, school site staff, peer mentors, and families to also meet the 60 minutes of recommended daily activity. It has further been reported that by implementing the ICDI program, positive changes have occurred to the school environment, promoting better understanding, compassion, and the forging of friendships.
As a result of COVID-19, with students working from home through distance learning and online instruction, we launched ICDI@HOME to provide resources for parents and caregivers to keep their children active as they adjust to the new normal until we resume schooling as we knew it. ICDI further supports the CSPAP as well as the WSCC model providing many opportunities for youth with disabilities to stay active in the school environment as well as in the community and with family support.
ICDI works to achieve its objectives through the program’s three core tenets:
MENTORING: School site personnel (teachers, paraprofessionals, therapists, counselors, etc.) guide students through physical education, physical activity, and sports opportunities and healthy eating habits.
GOAL SETTING: School site personnel work with students on setting weekly, grading period, or semester goals.
RECOGNITION: After completing the program for a minimum of 5 days per week for 8 weeks, students earn their PALA+ awards (certificate). It is recommended that in the school setting the program is conducted all year long with an end of year awards celebration/ceremony.
The ICDI Program is offered in eight-week intervals throughout the school year, but the program can begin at any time. Ideally, the program is conducted all year culminating with an end of year awards ceremony/celebration.
We know that healthy and fit students are better learners who are more likely to thrive in school and in life. Studies on the health and fitness of children and youth with disabilities show that many do not get enough exercise nor have healthy eating habits. For this reason we are hopeful that every school district across the U.S. will offer the program to all students with disabilities in all schools. For additional information, please visit https://acl.gov/programs/health-wellness/icdi or to get started, please contact Dr. Jayne Greenberg, Program Director, at Jayne.Greenberg@acl.hhs.gov or 202-768-3557.
Dr. Jayne D. Greenberg is presently a Program Director for the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, she has served as the District Director of Physical Education and Health Literacy for Miami-Dade County Public Schools for the past 22 years. Throughout her career, she has worked as an elementary, middle, and high school physical education teacher in public and private schools; a Region physical education coordinator; a high school and middle school administrator; and 12 years as an adjunct professor teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in Methods, Sport Psychology, and Research.
Jayne has also served as a President of FAHPERD and chaired the Sport Development Committee for the USOC, USA Field Hockey. In 2005 was named as the National Physical Education Administrator of the Year; received the 2005 Highest Recognition Award by the US Secretary of Health; received the 2009 Point of Light Award by Florida Governor Charlie Crist; and was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness in 2009. In 2011 Dr. Greenberg was appointed by President Obama to serve on the President’s Council for Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition; in 2012 was selected as an author on the Institute of Medicine Committee; in 2015 was named as the North America Chair for the International Sport and Culture Association; in 2016 was named as an Aspen Institute Scholar, received the 2016 North American Society of HPERD Professionals Award; and in 2017 received the Lifetime of Giving Award by Delta Psi Kappa and was named as the Education Sector Chair for the National Physical Activity Plan. In 2019 Dr. Greenberg was inducted into the SHAPE America Hall of Fame.
Dr. Greenberg is an international consultant: co-authored two books and published numerous articles, chapters, and has been a speaker at several state, national, and meetings; and has further secured over $39 million in federal and foundation grants.