Healthy Living at The Charles Lea Center
Today is World Down Syndrome Day! In support of this important day of awareness, we are highlighting the Charles Lea Center.
The Charles Lea Center provides supports and resources for over 1,500 individuals (including those with Down syndrome) in Spartanburg. They are “committed to being flexible to accommodate the changing needs and expectations of the individuals we support.”
Written by the Charles Lea Center team.
It once was thought that if you had a developmental disability, such as Down syndrome, you would never be able to get a job or live independently. But that thinking does not hold true anymore. Many people with developmental disabilities work, live independently, and graduate college. These milestones do come with additional challenges which we work to overcome at the Charles Lea Center (CLC). And, like everyone, having an active lifestyle with proper nutrition is imperative to living a full life.
The CLC provides an array of services to more than 1,500 adults with developmental disabilities in Spartanburg County. Many of those served do have Down syndrome and these individuals participate in activities with everyone else.
The WeCare Health and Wellness Clinic is a Nurse-Practitioner managed clinic that is located onsite at the CLC. WeCare staff provide assessments, examinations, and treatments with an emphasis on wellness and active living. A full-time therapeutic recreational coordinator who plans weekly activities is also employed by the CLC.
“Health and Wellness Programs are essential to promote and improve the health and wellbeing for all individuals with Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome are living longer than ever before. It is imperative that caregivers prepare them for a healthy future. Lack of access to quality health care services continues to be a significant barrier for people with Down’s syndrome.
Adults with Down syndrome experience ‘accelerated aging,’ meaning that they experience certain conditions and physical features that are common to typically aging adults at an earlier age than the general population. Down syndrome is associated with a large variety of health problems with varied severity and consequently complex healthcare needs. Early detection, access to health and wellness programs improve the quality of life for people living with Down syndrome.“
Faith Burke FNP-BC, GNP-BC
WeCare Health and Wellness Center, Charles Lea Center
The Charles Lea Center Foundation supports our wellness initiatives and has provided many grants so we can increase our efforts in improving the overall health of those served. We are incredibly grateful for their support and encouragement.
An example of the CLC Foundation’s support is a grant they gave the CLC for mental health support. About a year and half ago they granted the CLC $40,000 to provide therapy to folks we support. Since so many places don’t take Medicaid or there is a long wait list, the grant gave us the ability to private pay so people can be seen quicker and experience consistent therapy. We currently have 15-20 people going to therapy. In addition, we were able to hire a music therapist who comes to the main center and work with small groups.
Here’s a little more about what we are doing:
What sports, physical activities, or exercise opportunities are offered at the CLC?
- Our folks have access to the gym at the main building during the week. We also provide dance days and exercise classes (some are led by folks we support), and our folks can participate in Special Olympics for track and field and bowling. Several have also joined a local gym.
- Our WeCare Health and Wellness Clinic holds “Just Walk with Your NP,” once a month. They meet at the Mary Black Rail Trail where they discuss the importance of healthy living and then they walk together.
Why is it especially important for individuals with Down syndrome to stay active and learn about healthy eating habits?
- Like everyone we support, it is important for individuals with Down syndrome to follow diet and exercise recommendations from their doctor. Our folks see their doctors regularly and staff do their best to support staff in following those recommendations.
Does the CLC facilitate or participate in cooking classes?
- Our Nurse Practitioner provides healthy cooking classes for our homes. She also has a complete wellness program. That includes medication and stress classes, monthly walks with her, and a wellness committee that includes staff and people supported to find more ways to bring healthy ideas to everyone.
- While not a cooking class, the CLC participates in Foodshare Spartanburg (Ruth’s Gleanings) and participants are encouraged to use the recipes provided.