Columna Brings SU Fit Families Program to India

-Caitlin Hoover

Dr. Luis Columna, Associate Professor of Exercise Science, has been working with individuals with disabilities for over 15 years. He completed his PhD in Adapted Physical Education from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas where his advisor recommended he complete a minor in family science. By taking family science, his research shifted to include teaching skills to the families of individuals with disabilities so that they may better interact, a method which had not been previously implemented in most special needs programs. 

His Syracuse University (SU) Fit Families program has been very successful in engaging children with disabilities, their families, and professionals in the field of adapted physical education in order to teach families the skills needed to interact with their children and keep them fit and healthy. By engaging in physical activity, it reduces the risk of secondary health concerns such as obesity and heart failure, and also provides physiological, psychological and social benefits for all participants. 

Recently, when he traveled to India to give a talk on Hemophilia at an India Inclusion Summit in Bangalore, Dr. Columna was contacted by multiple individuals who would like to implement this program throughout India. He is excited to have such a diverse team working with individuals with a variety of needs including those with autism and visual impairments. He believes they will be able to make a great impact through their current SU Fit Families program in India, as well as any new pro-grams which branch out of it.

For students and professionals looking to get involved in assisting or implementing programs for individuals with disabilities, Dr. Columna offers this advice: “Students need to be kind, caring and patient, but at the same time they must have the drive to be advocates for individuals with disabilities and believe that they can achieve by having high expectations of them. For professionals who want to implement these kinds of programs you need to be creative, think outside the box, and then whatever your dream is, try to put it into perspective.”

Dr. Columna is one of eight education faculty to be chosen by the Cornell-SU South Asia Consortium and the South East Asia Program at Cornell to be a Faculty Fellow. Dr Columna at the India Inclusion Summit in Bangalore