Grant to Establish Fitness Program for Individuals with Disabilities, Educate Trainers

August 12, 2014

Media Contact

Paula Witherell
Director of Institutional Communication
Daemen College
(716) 839-8472
witherell@daemen.edu

Physical Trainer with disabled patient

AMHERST, N.Y. – A fitness initiative for individuals with disabilities and specialized instruction for trainers will be offered at Daemen College through a $50,000 Inclusive Fitness Field-Related Grant from the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC). Daemen is one of only three organizations statewide to receive the grant, which is renewable for an additional two years based on the program’s success.

“We are very excited about this project and grateful to the DDPC for providing the funding for such an important endeavor,” said Dr. Michael Brogan, Daemen vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college. “With this grant, Daemen can have a real impact on promoting regular exercise as a key element to a healthy lifestyle among individuals with disabilities.”

Following planning and development through the fall, the two-phase project, “Get Movin’ – Exercise, Nutrition and Wellness: A Fitness Initiative for Individuals With Disabilities,” is expected to kick off in January with a comprehensive “train the trainer” education program. Area fitness trainers and instructors will learn ways to modify fitness and exercise programs to make them accessible to individuals with disabilities. Intake assessment, designing exercise routines, disability awareness, wellness and nutrition mentoring, relaxation and stress management, and related areas will be covered in the educational sessions, which will be held on Daemen’s campus.

“Trainers will gain a foundational understanding of making exercise programs inclusive and learn ways to implement effective, adaptive methods to best accommodate the physical activity needs of individuals with disabilities,” explained Dr. Diane Ryan, associate professor of nursing, who will oversee the fitness initiative with Dr. Theresa Kolodziej, director of clinical education in physical therapy. “Inclusiveness in the fitness community is an area that’s developing as trainers interact more frequently with all types of clients, including those with varying disabilities.”

For the second phase, Daemen will offer next summer an inclusive exercise program for individuals with disabilities, as well as for family members and others who regularly interact with this population to learn the importance of incorporating healthy lifestyle changes. The on-campus sessions, which will cover exercise and overall wellness, will be a multi-disciplinary effort by faculty and students in the Daemen Nursing and Physical Therapy Departments.

“Regular physical activity has been shown to be elemental to healthy living and it is central to Daemen’s initiative,” said Ryan. “With the exercise program, we intend to blend moderate exercise with guidance on making healthy choices so that individuals with a range of disabilities may experience the life-changing benefits of overall wellness.”

As a whole, pointed out Dr. Ron Schenk, dean of the Division of Health and Human Services, “engaging fitness trainers and implementing exercise and nutrition programming for this population exemplifies Daemen’s dedication to the health, well-being and service to the community.”

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