NorthPointe Resources Starts New Peer to Peer HealthMessages Program

Zion, Illinois
Health Messages_Logo_Color (72 dpi)
Did you know that peers teaching peers has an enormous impact on health?

We are pleased to introduce a new
Peer to Peer HealthMessages Program that was developed as a way to improve health knowledge of people with intellectual disabilities (ID) living in our communities. Individuals with ID are trained to become Healthy Lifestyle Coaches(HLCs) and provide a 12-week HealthMessages Program to their peers using a structure that is practical to implement in community settings. A centerpiece of the Program is the Coaching Manual: An easy to follow, step-by-step guide for the HLCs to use for the length of the program. Mentors are also trained and available to the HLCs should they have any additional questions or concerns.

NorthPointe Resources in Zion, Illinois is the first community-based organization (CBO) to implement the Program and train Healthy Lifestyle Coaches to become leaders and share health messages with their peers. As a private, not-for-profit provider of developmental disability and behavioral health services, NorthPointe Resources  “works diligently to create a culture of wellness for consumers and staff” says Kristin Krok, Community Associate for the HealthMatters CAP. Kristin is very enthusiastic about the initiative. “Last fall we piloted the HealthMessages Program at NorthPointe and 4 consumers were trained to be Healthy Lifestyle Coaches. Those coaches then facilitated the 12-week program to their peers. Several new coaches were recently trained and a new HealthMessages Program began in January. Consumers are excited about the opportunity to become Healthy Lifestyle Coaches. It’s a good opportunity to advocate for themselves and to empower their peers. “A consumer who is a Healthy Lifestyle Coach came in one day and thanked us for the opportunity to take part, and then he said ‘There are days I just don’t feel like doing this, and wonder if I should show up at all. But I make myself go, and when it’s all over, I feel really glad I went!’” 

Demonstrating that the HealthMessages Program can be done “anytime, anywhere,” Evanston, Illinois-based Center for Independent Futures (CIF) will begin training 2-3 Healthy Lifestyle Coaches during March in partnership with Whole Foods Market Evanston South. The natural, organic food store will provide space, snacks and expertise in support of the CIF’s implementation of the program.  “We love that the HealthMessages Program provides education on healthy lifestyle choices through the innovative use of peer mentors,“ states Mary Cox, who will lead the training process for CIF.  “This added social component coupled with the practice of positive personal goal setting makes the program a win-win for all our participants.”

The HealthMessages Program was developed by
Beth Marks, Jasmina Sisirak, Joan Medlen, and Erika Magallanes through the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging with Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago and funded by Special Olympics International.

Are you interested in bringing
HealthMessages Program to your Organization? Contact Us!