Keeping active and healthy

People with disabilities can and do lead long healthy lives. Disabilities don't stop people from going to school, attending places of worship, or riding their bike. Having a disability does not mean a person can't be healthy. People with or without disabilities can stay healthy by living healthy lifestyles.

“Health Shares” is an initiative of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schenectady County (CCE) in collaboration with Ellis Medicine, Schenectady County Public Health Services and Schenectady ARC (ARC). Initially funded in 2012 through the Astra Zeneca Healthcare Foundation, the program is designed to mitigate the complications of cardiovascular and chronic disease among impoverished Schenectady County families through increased vegetable consumption and nutrition education. Program participants were identified by their Ellis Family Health Center physician as possessing or being at-risk of chronic disease. Baseline medical data revealed that 30% of the population were diagnosed with heart disease, 45% with hypertension, 48% with high cholesterol and 94% with obesity. At the time of their initial medical appointment, patients were dispensed a vegetable voucher or “prescription”, redeemable bi-weekly for five meals worth of vegetables. The program infused new life into the underutilized and forlorn Schenectady Central Park Greenhouse where 10 developmentally disabled ARC participants and several at-risk youth of the Roots and Wisdom program received competitive wages to cultivate 8,215 pounds of vegetables under the supervision of master grower Hassleer Jacinto-Witcher. When harvested, the vegetables were delivered to farm stands located at the greenhouse and Ellis Family Health Center where patients redeemed vouchers and received a generous supply of vegetables along with meal preparation guidance and nutrition education from USDA-funded dietitians from CCE.

“Know, Grow and Eat Your Vegetables,” strives to decrease heart disease, obesity and diabetes among individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities via hands-on participation in vegetable plant cultivation, harvesting and meal preparation. The program is based at Schenectady ARC’s horticulture training program in Rotterdam, New York. There agency staff instruct participants in planting, watering and cultivating 15 varieties of vegetable seedlings. The program also involves nutritional educators from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schenectady County to educate participants and staff about healthy meal preparation practices. Vegetables are also harvested, packaged and distributed for participant consumption in the Schenectady ARC group home or family home settings.

The Gardens at Minard are an extension program of our “Know, Grow and Eat Your Vegetables,” which strives to decrease heart disease, obesity and diabetes among individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities via hands-on participation in vegetable plant cultivation, harvesting and meal preparation.

Therapeutic dance classes are offered at our Maple Ridge Day site. Therapeutic dance is the use of movement and dance for emotional, cognitive, social, behavioral and physical conditions. As a form of expressive therapy Therapeutic Dance assumes that movement and emotion are directly related.