IHRSA Foundation, ACE Obtains Funding to Improve Exercise Inclusion for People with Intellectual Disability

Posted: Sep 22, 2020 in ACE Press Releases

BOSTON, MA—September 22, 2020—The IHRSA Foundation and the American Council on Exercise (ACE), supported by the UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Fitness, Sport & Recreation, PE, have had a first joint project approved by Special Olympics with funding through their Inclusive Health Innovation Grant. The grant, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), aims to support organizations in making practices more inclusive and tip the balance toward a fully inclusive world where people with intellectual disabilities (ID) are fully and intentionally included in mainstream fitness programs and services. 

The project will focus on the Get Active for All Pledge, an awareness and education campaign to get more clubs committed to increasing opportunities for inclusion of people with disabilities, especially intellectual disabilities (ID). The pledge is the first step in progressing through the UFIT (Universal Fitness Innovation and Transformation) pathway toward comprehensive culture change and universal inclusion. UFIT is a global social change movement aiming to make communities inclusive by facilitating high quality participation in and access to health, fitness, and sport clubs for all community members.

Through this project, we aim to activate a large network of U.S. fitness industry and exercise professionals committed to increasing inclusion at their facilities for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. 

The education materials and best practices resulting from this project will build on existing materials developed by the UNESCO Chair in inclusive Fitness in partnership with IHRSA, ACE, and other U.S. and global partners, and enable us to build the capacity of managers, staff, and fitness professionals to effectively and sustainably implement inclusive practices and to specifically and intentionally include people with ID. 

“We are proud to partner with the IHRSA Foundation to bring awareness to this important topic,” said Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., president and chief science officer for American Council on Exercise. “ACE supports all people in their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, and we are excited for the opportunity to support exercise professionals with education and training to help them implement inclusive practices in their work.”  

IHRSA Foundation and ACE will use the project funds to support:

  • The collection and dissemination of key practices for the inclusion of people with ID in fitness and sport opportunities. 
  • Additional resources to help club staff and exercise professionals better attract and work with individuals with ID.
  • A collected image library featuring fitness participants and/or exercise professionals with disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, for health clubs, exercise professionals, and fitness companies to use in marketing and communications.
  • An expanded toolkit on inclusive practices, leveraging best inclusive practices from the newly built network of pledge signers. 


“The IHRSA Foundation is excited to advance this project with the support of the Inclusive Health Grant,” says Brent Darden, interim president of the IHRSA Foundation. “Physical activity is a key factor in promoting physical and mental health and well-being. This funding will enable us to help facilitate the inclusion of more people with intellectual disability in mainstream fitness, exercise, and physical activity opportunities.” 


About ACE 

The American Council on Exercise is a nonprofit organization with global reach that works to improve physical-activity levels by certifying exercise professionals and health coaches, publishing original research, convening experts on physical activity health, working directly with community groups, and advocating for policies to get people from all walks of life moving. The 90,000 exercise professionals and health coaches certified by ACE are among the most respected in the world of fitness, helping people embrace physical activity and adopt healthier lifestyles. For more information, call 800-825-3636 or visit ACEfitness.org. AMERICAN COUNCIL ON EXERCISE, ACE and ACE logos are Registered Trademarks of the American Council on Exercise. 


About IHRSA Foundation 

The IHRSA Foundation, established by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) in 2014, is a 501(c)3 organization with the goal of promoting health through exercise. 

The IHRSA Foundation seeks to advance the charitable and educational mission of IHRSA, the global trade association for the sports, fitness and aquatics industry. The IHRSA Foundation’s mission is to help health clubs open their doors to people living with chronic disease and disability, ultimately making the health-enhancing power of exercise more accessible and affordable. 


About UNESCO Chair in inclusive Fitness, Sport & Recreation, PE

Our vision is a world in which EVERYONE is included and has the opportunity to participate in physical education, sport, fitness and recreation regardless of their ability, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background or creed as we know that these activities have the potential to trigger this social change while empowering people with flourishing health and well-being.

Our Aim is to lead a global partnership for social change. The full and effective inclusion of persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others and their full enjoyment of physical education, sport, fitness and recreation, without discrimination, is an essential target of our work.

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