As research continues to show that eating healthy and exercising leads to better cognitive functioning, a we have begun a new approach to helping adults with disabilities succeed in experiencing fuller, more connected lives. Exercise, meal planning and educational activities aimed at lowering stress for both staff and adults with disabilities are all incorporated into the new Health & Wellness Program being implemented by Cincinnati nonprofit Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD, Inc.).
“Including our professional team in our program is uniquely important as caretakers are often more focused on taking care of others than themselves and this can be stressful work at times. Staff are role models to those we work beside
and so their participating together in learning about making healthy choices will have far reaching implications,” said LADD Health and Wellness Coordinator Kristin Harmeyer.
Our Health and Wellness Program includes:
1) Improving physical fitness: Creating and implementing a fitness pilot program where she is assisting selected staff and individuals living at a LADD residence to develop personal health plans; expanding LADD’s Team participation in the Flying Pig Marathon 5K and other races; offering other exercise opportunities such as monthly yoga, a weekly strength training and aerobics class, and a wellness ladies night.
2. Improving nutrition: Creating and implementing a pilot program at LADD’s Victory Parkway residential facility where residents and staff review menus, make recommendations, shop and cook healthy meals focused on lowering cholesterol; and providing nutrition information.
3. Improving mental well-being: Creating and implementing a mind-body-wellness champion pilot program that involves a staff stress survey, trainings and activities aimed at lowering stress; and coordinating a wellness fair.
Harmeyer, who runs our Program, has an associate’s degree in health and fitness from Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and a bachelors degree in athletic training from Northern Kentucky University. Her career at LADD spans 13 years. Prior to her newly created position, she has worked in direct support positions gaining experience in every agency department.
“All of us at LADD believe self-determination, independence and quality of life absolutely includes the right and the opportunity to be invested in one’s own well-being,” said Harmeyer. “My new role is such a personal passion for me not only because healthy living has always been my lifestyle, also because I care so much about the adults I spend my days with and I want to see them leading full, healthy lives.”
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