Today’s blog is written by Cynthia C. Beacham, President for the Charles Lea Center Foundation.
In December 2016, the Charles Lea Center Foundation received an $11,000 grant to implement a healthy eating/active living curriculum specifically developed for special needs adults. HealthMatters is a 12-week lesson plan developed by the University of Illinois/Chicago respected nationwide as a Best Practice for improving the health and wellness of an intellectually disabled population. Weekly classes cover making healthy food choices, easy ways to build exercise into daily life, and core concepts of a healthy lifestyle, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
The Charles Lea Center embraces wellness for all of the 1,500 individuals it serves and its 550 employees. A comprehensive wellness policy outlines health and wellness resources available. In addition to HealthMatters:
- The Center operates an on-site wellness clinic providing primary and chronic healthcare at no cost to CLC clients and staff. CLC’s Nurse Practitioner averages 200 clinic visits each month.
- A staff of 25 nurses provide clinical oversight for residential and community-based clients with healthcare needs.
- TeleHealth technology is used to monitor vital signs for chronically ill individuals.
- Health fairs are held periodically attracting clients and employees alike and bi-weekly emails promote healthy lifestyle practices.
- A walking club keeps people moving as does outdoor Life Trail exercise equipment (funded with a 2013 Mary Black Foundation grant) and an indoor exercise gym with Nautilus-type equipment.
- Free Yoga classes are offered weekly and class time is paid time.
“We don’t know of another disabilities organization in the state that embraces wellness to the extent that the Charles Lea Center does,” boasts CLC Foundation President Cyndi Beacham. “Many of our individuals have physical mobility issues on top of developmental disabilities, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take good care of the mind and body they’ve got. We believe anybody can strive for a healthier lifestyle.”