U of U professor honored for work with children who have disabilities

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Participants in the U of U's U-FIT program. Image courtesy health.utah.edu

SALT LAKE CITY – A University of Utah professor was honored Thursday for her efforts to create a student-led exercise program for children with disabilities and their families.

Hester Henderson, associate professor of exercise and sports science, was honored with the U of U’s Distinguished Faculty Service Award at the Bennion Center’s Community Engaged Recognition Luncheon.

Her program, U-FIT, was established in 2000 and serves about 140 children each semester. It also gives student volunteers an experience they can’t get in a classroom.

Nancy Winemiller Basinger is the engaged faculty director at the University of Utah’s Bennion Center, and she said the program is unique as well as helpful.

“This is really one of the only programs of its kind,” Basinger said. “It teaches people who want to learn more about teaching physical education how to work with children with disabilities while providing a really needed service in our community.”

The program relies on the work of about 160 student volunteers each semester, who come from a variety of fields of study—not just physical education.

“Not many people could inspire hundreds of undergraduate students to give up their evenings to provide activities for children with disabilities,” said Karen Paisley, associate dean of the College of Health in a press release. “She modeled what it means to be a mentor to students.”

For more information about U-FIT, click here.