Participants in Northeast Arc’s Steps to Independence and #Opportunities day programs are in the first cohort to graduate from the agency’s new HealthMatters Program™. HealthMatters is an evidence-based program designed for, and with input from, people with IDD. Northeast Arc staff received free training and curriculum support to deliver the health, nutrition and fitness program thanks to a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the HealthMatters Program at the Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago
The class of 11 met through the spring on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 90 minutes and included both nutrition and health lessons and actual fitness opportunities. For fitness, the group opened each class with a nine-minute warm-up video. After the lesson, the group then headed out to do a mall walk with three callisthenic stations. Exercises for the class were based on the four types of exercise: flexibility, aerobic, balance, and strength. The objective of the curriculum is to provide participants with enough information for them to make healthy changes in lifestyle and develop their own pattern for physical fitness and good health. Course instructors were Becky Christie, Jennifer Visconti, and Aniecia Capel.
Throughout the 12-week course all participants completed work in a personalized notebook. During a graduation lunch they received a certificate of completion and toolkits to support positive health outcomes moving forward. Among the graduates was Jordyn Lapointe, whose mother Joi Kenny, is a Northeast Arc employee. Joi was able to attend the graduation with her daughter!