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Promoting Physical Activity Among Children and Adolescents With Disabilities: The Translation of Policy to Practice Internationally

Cindy Sit, Salomé Aubert, Catherine Carty, Diego Augusto Santos Silva, José Francisco López-Gil, Piritta Asunta, Yves Palad, Roselle Guisihan, Jeongmin Lee, Kelly P. Arbour Nicitopoulos, Leigh M. Vanderloo, Heidi Stanish, Justin Haegele, Piotr K. Urbański, Jurate Pozeriene, Yeshayahu Hutzler, and Kwok Ng

Background: Physical inactivity among children and adolescents with disabilities (CAWD) is a global public health issue. Policy efforts to promote physical activity (PA) among CAWD have increased. This study summarizes the international policy trend for promoting PA among CAWD, with behavioral and policy insights specific to CAWD from country/regional indicators from the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance Matrix on Physical Activity for Children and Adolescents to determine policy translation into practice. Methods: International and national PA policy documents on CAWD were assessed. Data from the Global Matrix Para Report Cards on the behavioral and government indicators from 14 countries or regions (grouped by human development index) were reviewed and compared. Results: Policy instruments began promoting PA for CAWD in 1989 via the Convention on the Rights of the Child. International policy has been advocating PA specifically for CAWD recently. In 2020, the World Health Organization published specific PA guidelines for CAWD. Data from the 14 Para Report Car found 14 grades on the average behavioral indicator and 12 on the government indicator. A gap between the average behavioral indicator (D−) and the government indicator (C+) was found in the Para Report Card data. Conclusions: Although international policies are consistent in their attention to the needs of CAWD, national/regional policies vary. Coverage ranges from nonexistent to embedded in broader inclusion concepts. A gap in policies to promote PA of CAWD is prevalent and is more prominent in countries or regions with a lower human development index ranking.