A mixed-method research study investigated the I Can Do It, You Can Do It (ICDI) program, an eight week physical activity and nutrition mentoring program for individuals with disabilities (n=660) in nine sites across the United States. After eight weeks, the study examined the degree to which: 1) organizational leaders perceived a change in the organization; 2) the group of mentors significantly changed in terms of knowledge and behaviors; 3) individuals with disabilities demonstrated significant differences in physical activity levels, nutritional intake, sedentary behavior and BMI. On the organizational level, the ICDI site coordinators developed community collaborative partnerships to allow individuals with disabilities an opportunity to participate in physical activity within a supportive environment in their own community. Based upon the content analysis of the open-ended questions about the sites collaborations, several themes emerged on the organizational level with regard to the value of volunteers with expertise, improved accessibility, and sustainability with the collaborative effort. On the group level, 1,006 students at various sites from different disciplines (Therapeutic Recreation, Exercise Science, Physical Education, and Special Education) served as mentors for youth with disabilities. Mentors showed improvement of knowledge and behaviors concerning individuals with disabilities. Mentors valued group process with other mentors from varying disciplines. On the individual level, mentees exhibited greater enjoyment of physical activity, increased physical activity levels and improved healthy eating. Moreover, individuals with an above normal Body Mass Index (BMI) significantly decreased BMI (p <.05) by the end of the program. The evaluation of the collaborative mentoring process, I Can Do It, showed evidence of significant changes in the organizations, groups of mentors, and the individuals with disabilities.
Author Elizabeth Kemeny, Robert Arnhold
Volume Vol 46, No 4 (2012)