, Loma Linda University Health, with additional reporting by Adventist
U.S. President Barack Obama has recognized a program at Loma
Linda University Health for its efforts to encourage people with physical
disabilities to be active and fit.
The White House has recognized the program, PossAbilities,
as a “Presidential Champion” and honored it with a Gold Award and a certificate
that says, “In recognition of your outstanding commitment to adopt and maintain
a physically active and fit lifestyle. By earning this award you have proven
yourself to be a Presidential Champion. I hereby congratulate you on this
“We are deeply humbled to have received this recognition
from the president of the United States,” Pedro R. Payne, director of
PossAbilities, said in a statement Thursday. “It is our hope that the
PossAbilities program will continue to provide those with physical disabilities
the opportunities to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
PossAbilities, a community outreach program developed by the
Seventh-day Adventist-operated university, aims to offer physically
challenged people who were born with or have suffered permanent physical injury
a sense of community by offering activities and practical help.
The program offers a variety of activities and initiatives
that offer support, education, and athletic endeavors to its members, including
hosting the yearly PossAbilities Triathlon, an event joined in by thousands of
able-bodied and challenged athletes; and Road to Rio, a training program for
athletes hoping to compete at the 2016 Paralympics.
“Whether it’s through our weekly exercise classes, our
monthly bike rides, or our annual triathlon, we can think of no better way to
help spread our health message other than to live it,” Payne said.
The Presidential Champion award is part of The President’s
Challenge, a program of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports,
and Nutrition, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program offers
Presidential Champion awards in four categories, from bronze to platinum, as
well as a Health Fitness Award and a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, and
it recognizes efforts to help people of all ages and abilities to increase
their physical activity and improve their fitness through research-based
information, easy-to-use tools, and friendly motivations.