Cerebral palsy is the most common physical disability in childhood caused by injury to the developing brain, affecting movement and muscle control. In Australia, 1 in 700 babies are diagnosed with this lifelong disability.
Children with disabilities, including children with Cerebral Palsy, are nine times more likely to report cardiovascular disease and diabetes than those who are not disabled. This is due to common symptoms such as an inability to walk or talk, or chronic pain impacting activity.
Low participation rates in exercise for youth with disabilities contributes to these figures because they tend to lack the social skills and confidence to participate - often opting for passive leisurely pursuits.
Run for Life is a 12-week intensive running program held across Tuggerah, East Maitland and Newcastle - specifically designed to build technique, skills and confidence for children with disabilities and promote social engagement.
The program involves individual assessment by a physiotherapist including a video analysis of running technique and is tailored to the individual - helping to strengthen their body, improve movement skills and mental stamina, all-the-while building confidence and social connections.
The aim of Run For Life is to improve the health, wellbeing and quality of life for youth with disabilities and support the health and wellbeing of the broader family unit. This will be achieved through improved movement and muscle control, increasing strength and gross motor abilities in participants. The project also connects youth with disabilities to each other, creating peer supports and friendships.