Answering the Call to Bring Fitness Options to People with Disabilities

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REM Ohio, a human services provider for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities has partnered with the Akron Area YMCA and the County of Summit Board of MRDD (Summit MRDD) to launch a new wellness and recreation program tailored to the needs of people with disabilities called Ready, Fit & Able. The program will officially kick-off Saturday, March 14, 2009 at the Lake Anna YMCA Community Center in Barberton, Ohio. Interested participants can enroll in either the morning (9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.) or afternoon (1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.) session. The program has been designed as a fun way for people with disabilities to stay in shape and increase social interaction.

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The merits of exercise -- from preventing chronic health conditions to boosting confidence and self-esteem -- are hard to ignore. And these benefits are there for the taking, regardless of age, gender or physical ability. Yet there is a segment of our community, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), that too often face enormous obstacles in accessing the kind of basic recreation and wellness programs that many of us take for granted.

All too often these individuals are encouraged to only enjoy sedentary leisure, the most common being watching television or listening to the radio with family and friends. As a consequence, their leisure patterns do not help them maintain their health and fitness levels. This scenario is exacerbated by limited, coordinated community preventative health care, thereby resulting in secondary health conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, arthritis and respiratory diseases.

In 2005, the Surgeon General issued a Call to Action to Improve the Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities, recognizing the link between health and quality of life. This Call to Action encourages health care service providers, community leaders, advocates, and the public to work together to address the challenges facing people with disabilities in accessing health care and wellness services so that all people can live long, healthy, productive lives.

Answering the Call to Action, REM Ohio, a human services provider for people with I/DD, developed the vision for a wellness and recreation program called, Ready, Fit & Able. Recognizing the need for community partners to help promote and support this community health vision, REM Ohio enlisted the help of the County of Summit Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (Summit MRDD) and the Akron Area YMCA. Both Summit MRDD and the YMCA shared REM Ohio's desire to bring greater attention to this issue, while helping citizens of all abilities in our community improve their level of fitness and overall health.

Ready, Fit & Able will officially launch Saturday, March 14, with a morning (9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.) and afternoon (1:00 - 3:00 p.m.) session at the Lake Anna YMCA Community Center, located at 500 W. Hopocan Ave., Barberton, Ohio. Upon arrival, everyone will be invited to enjoy a variety of interactive activities supported by trained YMCA staff. The program has been designed as a fun way for people with disabilities to stay in shape and increase social interaction.

"As with any new program, we are excited to see how we can continue to improve fitness options for individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities," said Carla Parker, state director, REM Ohio. "It is our intention to introduce the Ready, Fit & Able program in other areas of the state where we have a presence, as well as hold quarterly fitness outings. With the help of community partners like CSBMR/DD and YMCA, we believe that this program has the potential for improving the quality of life for citizens of all abilities."

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Jeanne Maddox, Maddox Marketing Group
REM Ohio
330.945.6232 ext. 109
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