Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 5 (July/August 2016)

Introducing HealthMatters, Maryland! Initiative
We are excited to announce a start of HealthMatters, Maryland!, a health promotion initiative aimed at improving health and health promotion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) throughout the state of Maryland. HealthMatters Program team has partnered with Maryland Department of Disabilities to assist provider organizations with promoting healthy lifestyles to people with I/DD while meeting the requirements of the National Core Indicators.

Please visit
HealthMatters, Maryland! webpage as we will be adding announcements and timeline dates shortly.

For more information, please contact Maryland State Coordinators
Jennifer Eastman, MBA and Nathan Bradley, MBA.

Health Matters Curriculum to be implemented in 400 Project SEARCH sites
On August 3, at the 10th annual International Project SEARCH Conference in Orlando Florida, UnitedHealthcare Community & State and Project SEARCH announced a new national partnership focusing on furthering collaboration to bring health and wellness education to Project SEARCH sites across the country. As part of this expansion, UnitedHealthcare and Project SEARCH identified a Health Matters The Exercise and Nutrition Health Education Curriculum for People with Developmental Disabilities to be used to improve health and wellness. A good health and nutrition program can have life-changing results, including more energy, increased knowledge, more confidence and self-esteem, and fewer serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. As Vice President at UnitedHealthcare Community & State, Brett Edelson put it, “We are excited to advance our relationship with Project SEARCH. When we sat down with our partner and asked what we could do to deepen our collaboration, they named this wellness curriculum as a top priority for them. It couldn’t align with our organizational mission more perfectly – helping people live healthier lives.” A comprehensive, evidence-based curriculum written specifically for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Health Matters Curriculum was chosen to be implemented by UnitedHealthcare and Project SEARCH in over 400 sites.

UnitedHealthcare and Project SEARCH leadership are excited to add this health and wellness component to the Project SEARCH program for all students. This single resource includes everything professionals need to run successful health education sessions, such as complete instructions on running the program, adaptable instructor scripts for each lesson, weekly newsletter templates for participants that summarize key points, extensive appendices on assessment and Universal Design strategies, and all participant handouts and worksheets on a convenient CD-ROM for easy printing. As Director and Co-founder for Project Search, Erin Riehle said, “We know that good health is critical to successful employment, and that employment plays a huge role in promoting good health. Project SEARCH is all about employment, so it makes perfect sense to incorporate Health Matters Curriculum, which gives young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the tools that they need to adopt a healthy lifestyle.”
Project SEARCH is a visible example of UnitedHealthcare’s commitment to employment first. Employment in the general workforce is the first and preferred outcome in the provision of publicly funded services for all working age citizens with disabilities. Catherine Anderson, Vice President of State Programs at UnitedHealthcare Community & State, said it best stating “Our national partnership with Project SEARCH is a great example of how we invest our resources to improve quality of life outcomes for the individuals we serve and the broader community. This partnership advances our commitment to improving employment outcomes and increases access to a health and wellness curriculum.”

Project SEARCH was developed at
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, a research environment which fosters visionary thinking and innovation. It’s a transition-to-work program model for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program combines hands-on training in relevant and marketable job skills, an employability and independent living skills curriculum, personalized job placement assistance, and follow-along support. The hallmarks of Project SEARCH are total workplace immersion and a singular goal of competitive employment for every program graduate. Since its inception, Project SEARCH has grown from a single program site at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, to an international organization with 400 locations across the U.S., Canada, England, Ireland and Scotland.

Contact information: Maryellen Daston, PhD (, Project SEARCH Website

HealthMatters Program in Sweden
The research group Community Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden has developed a 2-component "BUDDY" Program for adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) which builds on pairs (buddies) consisting of one person with ID and one paid carer who will receive the health education together and inspire and motivate each other to reach health goals. "BUDDY" uses the Health Matters Curriculum in combination with a smart phone application to motivate and give feedback on health-related behaviors. The research team plans to evaluate the program in a randomized controlled trial with 300 participants. Request for funding has been submitted to the Swedish Research Council and other sources and a decision is expected by the end of September. If granted, the 3-year study will commence in 2017.

Contact information: Liselotte Schafer Elinder, PhD ( and Eva Flygare Wallen, PhD (

HealthMatters Program Team Consulting on Walmart Foundation Grant to AUCD "Nutrition is for Everyone"
The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) is pleased to announce that the
Walmart Foundation has granted AUCD and four of its member Centers $300,000 to launch the “Nutrition is for Everyone” project. This one-year pilot project will provide nutrition education for an estimated 20,000 people in the disability community across Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Based on public health data, four states were identified as areas where people with disabilities are least likely to be consuming fruits and vegetables and therefore in the most need for nutrition education and support. The “Nutrition is for Everyone” program design employs “ Nutrition Ambassadors,” trained experts from the AUCD network and local community who will help people with disabilities, as well as their families and friends, develop the knowledge and skills necessary to make healthy decisions about their nutrition needs.

“We are thrilled that AUCD was selected for this collaborative funding that benefits the field,” said Andrew Imparato, executive director of AUCD. “We are excited about the
Walmart Foundation’s commitment to funding programs that provide nutrition education to underserved communities. This grant will support AUCD’s direct training of people with disabilities and community members on nutrition, and we expect it to have a positive impact on the health of people with disabilities living in the target states.”

The network Centers collaborating on this effort will receive over $190,000 in combined funding to facilitate the program, in which they will competitively select a state “Nutrition Ambassador.” Ambassadors will develop a tailored work plan based on their state’s specific needs. Ambassadors will provide training for community members with disabilities and their friends and families, to increase the number of people with disabilities receiving nutrition education and subsequently increase the rates of consumption of fruits and vegetables for people with disabilities.

Nutrition and disability experts from the
Institute on Disability and Human Development, AUCD's member Center at the University of Illinois in Chicago, will serve as consultant advisors, sharing lessons learned from "HealthMatters Program ," a program that builds capacity for organizations across the country to implement health promotion programs for people with developmental disabilities.

WEBINAR - September 22, 2016 (2pm-3pm CST)
Racial and Ethnic Disparities Among Adults with IDD and Their Family Caregivers

WEBINAR - October 20, 2016 (2pm-3pm CST)
Promoting Collaboration Between Hospice and Palliative Care Providers and Adult Day Services for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

WEBINAR - January 19, 2017 (2pm-3pm CST)
Healthy Relationships and Healthy Sexuality for People with Developmental Disability

WEBINAR - February 16, 2017 (2pm-3pm CST)
Aging and Dementia Care for People with Intellectual Disabilities

WEBINAR - March 16, 2017 (2pm-3pm CST)
Transition of Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities to Adult-Systems of Care

WEBINAR - April 20, 2017 (2pm-3pm CST)
Social Support Networks of Aging Persons with Intellectual Disabilities

Share with us!
Do you have a story or a tip you would like to share? Do you have an idea for the next Newsletter? Email us at