The Daily Mile is a great activity for students with special needs

Physical activity has countless benefits for everyone. It doesn’t matter their age or ability level. Experts recommend 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. That recommendation is for all children ages 6 to 17.

There are several benefits to getting regular physical activity including:

Those benefits are for everyone. There are extra benefits for students like:

And the benefits continue for those with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Physical activity allows those students to:

  • Feel like a part of the wider school community
  • Build better social skills and relationships

This is vital. Building a support system around them helps them face challenges. And facing challenges is key for academic success. This network shouldn’t only be adults. Friends and fellow classmates are important members of these students’ success teams.

This all sounds simple, right? There’s a problem though. Students with physical and intellectual disabilities don’t get enough physical activity. 

Some reasons behind this are:

  • A physical environment that isn’t accessible to these individuals
  • The design of implemented programs hinders their involvement

Let’s explore these reasons in a little more detail.

Think about the last time you went for a walk. It could be through your neighborhood or even through a parking lot. Did you notice how many times you changed elevation or had to dodge something that was in your path? There are examples of design barriers. They can prevent individuals from participating in physical activity. They might not be able to negotiate steps and curbs well, or deal with uneven terrain.

Now consider some of the programs you know of that encourage physical activity in school. A school could build a playground complete with swings, slides and monkey bars. Games such as kickball or four square could also be a tool. But these strategies aren’t always suited to those with disabilities. Is someone unable to use their arms or legs? Is balance and coordination an issue? Are the rules and expectations of an activity limiting because of their difficulty?

So, what’s a solution? What’s an easy way for these students to reap the benefits of physical activity during the school day?

That’s where The Daily Mile can help. It’s a physical activity that can include all children regardless of skill or mobility level.

What’s The Daily Mile? 

The Daily Mile is 15 minutes of physical activity outdoors during the school day. Students take part at whatever level works for them – running, jogging, walking, or rolling! The most important thing is to get outside and move for 15 minutes.

The best part is there’s no extra equipment required and any small area at your school can be a route. Does your school have a circle drive where parents pull up to drop off and pick up their kids? That’s a perfect location to do The Daily Mile because:

  • It’s flat
  • It’s made of a durable surface
  • It’s circular

The circular, or nonlinear, part is important. No students should look like they are “winning” The Daily Mile. Everyone is moving just to move!

St. Michael Special School is in New Orleans, LA. Their student population is all students with different intellectual and developmental disabilities. That means every student faces some challenges to participation in physical activity. They have embraced The Daily Mile and have seen positive impacts on their campus.

One student has not only made physical strides but mental ones as well thanks to The Daily Mile. Her teachers used an innovative approach to infuse teaching into The Daily Mile. Read more about how this students first barely recognized letters and now is learning to read. And if you want to see more from St. Michael Special School, watch this video to see The Daily Mile in action.

The Daily Mile partners with the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program. The goal of that program is to promote inclusion through designated activities.

Is your school already signed up as a Unified Champion School? Join The Daily Mile and integrate it into your curriculum. We are so excited to join you in the #InclusionRevolution.