Incorporating Health and Wellness classes into work programs for individuals with severe intellectual disabilities
In October 2007 we were the recipients of a generous grant from the OBICI health care foundation based in Suffolk, VA. After seeing employee health and wellness programs in the corporate world and how those programs help maintain a happy and healthy workforce we proposed starting a health and wellness program for the employs with severe disabilities at the laundry facility during their work day. Many people with disabilities have a history of very poor healthcare; as a result many are over weight which is an added stigma in society. They have an increased risk of disease and increased emotional and physical behaviors. Included in the grant were funds to create a state of the art air-conditioned cafeteria, it would encourage healthy eating habits and double as an exercise area with treadmills and recumbent bikes and other equipment to encourage exercise. As a result of this innovative new program we have been able to hire both a health and wellness coordinator and instructor who work with various groups of individuals educating them about the importance of proper nutrition, healthy food choices, the importance of good hygiene, and how to maintain exercise for weight loss and strong bones. Many individuals in the program have lost weight, stopped drinking and eating sugary foods and have an increased interest for maintaining a healthy mind and body for their entire lives. Chesapeake Service Systems reached its goal of opening the Health and Wellness Center in Octorber 5th of 2010. Working gives these individuals the self esteem and self worth to care about their future, the health and wellness program takes increased quality of life one step further and gives them the tools to live long, happy, healthy, productive lives just like everyone else.