About the PALA Fit For Life Programs

May 29, 2012

Special Olympics encourages its Programs in the United States to take part in the Special Olympics Get Fit for Sport PALA + Challenge, designed to motivate people of all ages to be physically active on a regular basis by participating in activities they enjoy. PALA is one of several programs of the President’s Challenge, the premier program of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sport and Nutrition. 

Emily and her mom stretching by reaching for their toes

Emily Belk and her mother, Mary Belk, were part of the PALA pilot in Georgia.Learn More

What It Is

The Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA+) challenge helps adults and children of all abilities to add physical activity to their lives. A key aspect of PALA+ is helping to improve eating habits. (That’s  the "plus" part of PALA+.) It's a natural companion to the Special Olympics Health Athletes initiative for SO athletes in the United States because it encourages behaviors that lead to better health.

The program is supported by U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, and awards for achieving the goals of the program will be given by Special Olympics and the First Lady.

To win the award, participants under 18 years old must meet an activity goal of 60 minutes a day, five days a week for six to eight weeks. For adults, it's 30 minutes a day, five days a week for six to eight weeks for adults. In addition, each participant must focus on a healthy eating goal each week.

This challenge is for anyone, from students to seniors, but it’s geared toward people who want to set themselves on the road to a healthier life through positive changes to physical activity and eating behaviors. Vegetarians, vegans, and others with dietary restrictions can participate, too. 

Visit the page on the main Special Olympics website that describes the program.

This is the page with links to sign up pages for each U.S. state.

How U.S. Programs Fit In

Programs have been asking in various ways about how to sell themselves as players in obesity prevention. PALA+ is one way to create a high profile focus on Special Olympics as an organization that promotes fitness. We’re not just one or two practices a week anymore, but we’re promoting higher levels of physical activity in our athletes.

PALA+ drew hundreds of Special Olympics athletes in three U.S. states during its recent pilot program. Programs who are interested in promoting the 8-week “campaign” to get its athletes in shape will have plenty of company. 

The Get Fit For Sport challenge is for everyone associated with Special Olympics, including athletes, families, coaches, volunteers, Program staff...anyone! 

What To Do

Programs can promote the Fit For Life program on their websites, through email, through newsletters. A key thing to remember is that anyone can take part, so it is a way to encourage whole families to get fitter and eat healthier.

You can promote your own state's program by getting the web address from this page with links to all sign up pages for each U.S. state.

More Information

For more information, get in touch with Kester Edwards, kedwards@specialolympics.org