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Health and Health Promotion in Social Context

Healthand Health Promotion in Social Context

Healthand Health Promotion in Social Context

Strategiesdesigned to promote health in a given social context should takeaccount of diversity within the target population. This is becausepopulation health is affected by a wide range of factors (includingeconomic, social, as well as physical living conditions). WorldHealth Organization (1986) describedhealth promotion as a process of giving the members of the society anopportunity to increase control over and take part in the process ofimproving their health. The process of health promotion aims athelping people attain complete mental, physical, as well as socialwell being at individual and group level. This implies that healthshould be viewed in a holistic way when designing a health promotionstrategy. This can be achieved by taking account of social, cultural,physical, and emotional well being of the target community orindividual. This paper will provide an outline for engaging residentsof a residential center for young adults with intellectual disabilityin physical activity. The paper will draw from two actions areas(including creation of a supportive environment and the developmentof personal skills) of the Ottawa Chapter for Health Promotion andtwo principles of health promotion.

Creatinga supportive environment

Asupportive environment is necessary for young adults withintellectual disability because it can help them make health choiceswith ease irrespective of the level of their cognitive impairment. According to BetterHealth Channel (2011) peoplewith intellectual disabilities find it difficult to learn new skillsor even manage their daily living skills, which results fromimpairment of their thought processing ability. This implies that astrategy that is intended to create a supportive environment for thispopulation should take account of the facts that these people havedifficulty with their living skills, including engaging in activitieswith others. Creating a supportive environment with regard tophysical activities means that these people should be given anopportunity to expand their individual capabilities, self-reliance,and protection from issues that put their good health at risk (BetterHealth Channel, 2011).

Thereare three major strategies that can be used to create a supportiveenvironment for young adults with intellectual disability toparticipate in physical activities. First, residential centers foryoung adults with intellectual disabilities should build on-sitefitness facilities. This means that the centers should construct andequip a physical fitness facility, most preferably a one stopfacility in the nearest reach of the disabled young adults. This cansolve the problem of poor accessibility to excise equipment as wellas functional limitations (Murphy &amp Carbone, 2008). In addition,this can encourage the young adults to integrate physical exerciseinto their daily schedules. Secondly, centers should offerreimbursement for all off-site usage. This can be achieved throughper visit reimbursement instead of buying yearly membership. Pervisit reimbursement will help the center in avoiding payments forservices that young adults have not used. This will break the barrierof the high cost of membership, thus encouraging the young adultswith intellectual disabilities to do physical exercise. Third, thecenter should encourage participation in physical activity bydeveloping and placing posters and signs strategically and throughoutthe center’s buildings. The poster should contain formation thatencourages the intellectually disabled young adults to take part inphysical exercise. This will break the barrier of lack of informationabout the availability and importance of physical activities (Murphy&amp Carbone, 2008). The center should employ professionals withknowledge, skills, and experience in physical exercise to ensure asuccessful implementation of the three strategies.

Developpersonal skills

Developingpersonal skills is a lifelong process that helps people in assessingtheir qualities and skills as well as setting their goals in order tomaximize their potential. According to WorldHealth Organization (1986) theaction plan that focuses on developing personal skills providessupport for personal as well as social development by giving healtheducation, information, and enhancing life skills. This provides anopportunity for the targeted individuals to exercise control overtheir environment, their own health, and to make choices that areconducive to their health. Similarly, the process of developingpersonal skills for young adults suffering from intellectualdisability should focus on educating them and providing them withsocial support throughout their life. This can be achieved using thetwin-track approach, which recognized that the needs of people withdisabilities are ordinary and they should be given access to themainstream services and programs, including the physical activityprograms (World Health Organization, 2011).

Thereare three major approaches that can be used to enhance thedevelopment of personal skills among the intellectually disabledyoung adults. First, provision of mainstream services should focus oninclusive education and inclusive social services. Based ontwin-track approach, young adults with intellectual disability shouldbe given an equal opportunity to learn physical activities to thehealthy persons. Where possible, the center should allow the disabledadults to participate in physical activities with normal persons.This can provide an opportunity for focused learning, development offriendship, and peer interaction, which results in meaningfulparticipation and learning (World Health Organization, 2011).Provision of inclusive social services, on the other hand, reducesthe impact of dimensions of social exclusion, thus helping theintellectually disabled persons to feel part of the society. This isone of the easiest ways to attract this population to participate inphysical activities.

Second,the center should provide family services to ensure that the membersof the families of young adults with intellectual disabilities areequipped with skills and knowledge to support the disabled persons.This is based on the notion that the concept of inclusion shouldstart in the home environment before being broadened to the carecenter, school, and the entire community. This is because a broaderconsideration of disability improves the functioning of both thedisabled persons and their families (Currie &amp Kahn, 2012).Educating the family members on their role will enable them toschedule physical activities for their disabled young adults and givethem immediate feedback when they are at home. This will create ascenario in which the concerted efforts of professionals at the carecenter and family members will provide long-term support for personaldevelopment of the disabled young adults.

Participativeprinciple of health care promotion

Theparticipative principle of health promotion emphasized on theimportance of the need to give people an opportunity to be involvedin decision making when the issue of concern touches their lives. Thetools used to enhance the participation of the young adults sufferingfrom intellectual disability should take account of the limitationsof their mental functionality. Rifkin &amp Lewando-Hundt 2002)identified three basic tools that can be used to enhanceparticipative health care promotion. First, conceptual mapping is avisualization tool that can be used to help individuals in drawingtheir surrounding and then explore the importance of differentdrawings with the help of professionals and members of the community.This will help the disabled children in locating the sites forphysical exercise within the center and understand their importance.Secondly, ranking is a participative tool that can be used to helpthe intellectually disabled people in ranking and assigning priorityto different activities. This will ensure that they include physicalactivities in their daily activities, even without being reminded byprofessionals of members of the community.

Intersectoralprinciple of health care promotion

Anintersectoral collaboration between the care center and otherorganization will ensure that the needs of intellectually disabledyoung adults are addressed in a comprehensive way. According toAdedayo &amp Ofili (2009) intersectoral collaboration includes thecollective actions that involve more than a single specializedagency. The care center should collaborate with financial agencies,health care facilities, and other organizations, both government andnon-governmental. For example, the construction of well equippedphysical facility within the care center may require financialsupport and advisory services of well wishers, including thenon-governmental organizations.


Healthcare promotion is a process that seeks to improve the healthcondition in a comprehensive way by taking account of the diversityof the target population. In the case of young adults withintellectual disability, the creation of a supportive environment andthe development of personal skills are the most appropriate actionsthat can be used to enhance their participation in physicalactivities. The two actions increase the capacity of the disabledpersons to make decisions regarding their health, especiallyparticipation in physical activities. In addition, the healthpromotion principles of participative and intersectoral collaborationcan enhance the participation of these people in physical activities.


Adedayo,O. &amp Ofili, A. (2009). Strengthening intersectoral collaborationfor primary health care in developing countries: Can the healthsector play broad roles? Journalof Environmental and Public Health,2010, 1-6. doi: 10.1155/2010/272896.

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Currie,J. &amp Kahn, R. (2012). Children with disability. TheFuture of Children,22 (1), 3-217.

Murphy,A. &amp Carbone, S. (2008). Promoting the participation of childrenwith disabilities in sports, recreation, and physical activity.Pediatrics,121 (5), 1057-1061. doi:10.1542/peds.2008-0566

Rifkin,S. &amp Lewando-Hundt., G. (2002). Participatoryapproaches in health promotion and health planning.London: Health Promotion Agency.

WorldHealth Organization (1986). The Ottawa Chapter for health promotion.WHO.Retrieved April 23, 2014, fromhttp://www.who.int/healthpromotion/conferences/previous/ottawa/en/index1.html

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