UW–Madison launching promoting activity for diverse abilities certificate program


The promoting activity for diverse abilities certificate program was approved by the university’s Academic Planning Council and requires 16 to 18 credits for completion. The program is being run through the School of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and students can declare for this certificate in the coming fall semester.

Tim Gattenby

“This certificate provides students interested in health, fitness, and medical careers a high degree of knowledge, skills, and confidence to prescribe and encourage healthy activities for individuals with diverse abilities,” says Tim Gattenby, a distinguished faculty associate with the Department of Kinesiology.

According federal reports, about one in five Americans have some type of disability, with mobility issues being the most common form. People with mobility restrictions can face an especially difficult time staying active due to transportation limitations, architectural barriers, discriminatory policies and practices, and societal attitudes, to name a few obstacles.

Gattenby, who directs the adapted fitness and personal training program within the Department of Kinesiology, is a longtime advocate for helping people with a range of abilities find new and innovative ways to stay active in an effort to improve health and wellness.

This promoting activity for diverse abilities certificate program will bolster efforts to prepare more professionals who can successfully approach this topic from two fronts: understanding and working with populations with diverse abilities; and creating opportunities to promote physical activity in a variety of settings.

This certificate program is designed so it does not increase a student’s time to degree. The program is intended for, but not limited to, three primary undergraduate majors: exercise and movement science, health promotion and health equity, and rehabilitation psychology and special education. Other students who may have an interest in this certificate are those pursuing majors in nursing, pre-medicine, dance and music therapy, biomedical engineering, and public health policy — and anyone who wishes to improve lives through adapted physical activity.

Gattenby explains that physical activity has repeatedly been shown to improve outcomes for people with disabilities. Among the positives associated with exercise is its capacity to resolve or mitigate the incidence of preventable secondary health conditions, such as depression, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

Adapted Fitness

The core curriculum for the promoting activity for diverse abilities certificate program is composed of 9 to 10 credits built around courses including anatomy, disability, hands-on practicum experience, and specialized program planning. The remaining elective credits can be tailored to a student’s interests. Examples include dance therapy, communicative disorders, health behavior, and diversity in special education.

Students who complete the coursework will be able to address activities aimed at improving general activities of daily living, posture, mobility, breathing, nutrition, and fall prevention.

Students will also be armed with tools to help battle the disparity in poor health and fitness across populations with diverse abilities.

These skills can be put to use in a variety of adapted physical activity settings, such as: spinal cord injury and neurological rehabilitation centers and facilities; hospitals and hospital sponsored programs; adapted fitness in corporate settings; senior day and residential facilities; aquatic facilities; public and private recreation agencies; health and fitness clubs; disability sports programs; and seasonal camps.

If you have questions about the new promoting activity for diverse abilities certificate program, email Morgan Shields at mrshields@wisc.edu.

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