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The Effects of Fit 5 and Gardens on Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

Grant Winners

  • Mary Ellen Mitchell‐Rosen, Ph.D. – College of Nursing
  • Holly Madison, Ph.D. – College of Nursing
  • Vanessa Johnson, Ph.D. – College of Nursing
  • Cyril Blavo, DO – College of Nursing
  • Marilyn Gordon, Ed.D. – College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Constance Demmery, MS – College of Nursing
  • Raquel Olivieri – College of Nursing
  • Samia Shretah – College of Nursing
  • Jennifer Gray – College of Nursing
  • Berit Amlie – Special Olympics Healthy Communities South Florida
  • Misha Payne – Special Olympics Healthy Communities South Florida


  • Marcella Rutherford, PH.D., M.B.A., M.S.N. – College of Nursing
  • Elaine Wallace, D.O., M.S., M.S., M.S. – College of Osteopathic Medicine


Award Winners Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are at greater risk than the overall population for lifestyle-related diseases such as cardio–metabolic conditions. Typically adults with IDD have lower levels of physical activity and therefore have higher rates of morbidity and mortality associated with hypoactive diseases.(Chow, Huang, Choi & Pan, 2016), "As a subpopulation, people with IDD experience more barriers to participating in physical activity (PA) and obtaining health diets compared to the general population" (Eisenberg,Rimmer,Mehta,&Fox.2015, p.2). Many secondary conditions and lifestyle-related diseases can be prevented through health promotion initiatives.

Little is known about the impact of providing targeted health promotion sessions and access to resources for the IDD population to increase PA and improve nutrition. "Instruments currently being used to measure physical activity and healthy eating at the community level are not to designed to assess persons with disabilities" (Eisenberg, et al, 2015, p. 2). This study will evaluate the
efficacy of participating in the Special Olympics Health Communities, Fit 5 program and gardening at adult day treatment centers. In this mixed methods study, the researchers will quantitatively evaluate the efficacy of the interventions for the IDD population through a Personal Outcomes Scale (POS) and biometric data. Both types of data will be collected pre-, mid-, and post-intervention. The biometric data obtained will include height and weight, BMI, Blood Pressure (BP), heart rate (HR) and abdominal girth. Qualitative data will be collected from the supporters (staff, caregivers, and healthcare students) regarding their perspective of the interventions using semi-structured interviews and focus in the phenomenological tradition. Healthcare students will be used to assist in implementing the interventions.

Results from the study will significantly further our knowledge of designing health promotion interventions for individuals with IDD in community settings. The results from the qualitative data will provide rich a rich description of the experience of the persons who implement the interventions. The data may provide information on how supporters and healthcare providers can best assist individuals with IDD to reach the highest level of health and wellness.
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