Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 3 (April/May 2016)

North to Alaska: HealthMatters Program Delights Eagle Crest Clients and Employees
LynnAnn Baldwin Tew, MA
Center for Human Development, University of Alaska-Anchorage
Tucked away in the forested town of Eagle River, Alaska, participants, staff and care providers of Eagle Crest, a community organization, enjoyed meeting throughout the winter months to discuss nutrition and physical health. Using the 12-Week HealthMatters Program as the guiding foundation, the group met together at the home, the gym, and in the community on field trips. The variety of locations provided interest and learning opportunities. When asked what they learned and enjoyed from participating in the HealthMatters Program, participants with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) stated with enthusiasm: “Workout club at the gym”, “Healthy food can help me”, “I like support from friends and staff.”

Eagle Crest’s Executive Director, Belinda Baldwin, remarked that HealthMatters Program is a “very positive experience especially because there were many unknowns or uncertainties, but once we figured out such a nice curriculum had been put together it made our job easy.“ Staff interests and skills provided strength and balance to the program. One staff enjoyed cooking healthy foods, another enjoyed facilitating the classes, and a third person utilized their personal training background. This supportive environment of staff and peers created a foundation of trust. “We thought if they saw someone struggling they might be judgmental but they weren’t. They were very supportive of each other,” said Baldwin.  To help track goal achievement, Eagle Crest utilized outcome measures from the Health Matters Curriculum including a evaluation survey and weight and blood pressure tracking protocol. Eagle Crest continues to run the 12-Week HealthMatters Program and the future goals include producing new videos, continuing to host classes, and utilizing and connecting with various community resources.

Like in many states, Alaskans with IDD are confronting health and wellness issues. Forty one percent  (41%) of Alaskans with disabilities self reported their general health status as fair or poor compared to 7% of Alaskans without disabilities. HealthMatters, Alaska! Initiative has provided a strategy to improve health outcomes for individuals with IDD while building capacity of community based organizations and enhancing wellness of their staff and clients.

May is a Mental Health Awareness Month

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have a high prevalence of mental health issues.* Dual Diagnosis is a term used when person has IDD and mental health issues. While exact prevalence of dual diagnosis is not known, many professionals have adopted the estimate that 30-35% of all people with IDD have a psychiatric disability. For more information, visit

*Cooper, et al. 2006

Start Your Herb Container Garden!
Fresh from farm to table you can do it with a few container pots. Herb container garden is a perfect start to a conversation about taste, texture, and smell of the foods we eat.
  • Start small and start with herbs you already use to cook with such as basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley, cilantro.
  • Grow mint for your mint tea (hot or cold)!
  • Try growing some lettuces, they are 'cut and come again plants' so don't pull their roots.
  • Use 8" or larger containers to allow herbs and lettuces to grow big.

June 16, 2016 (2pm-3pm CST)
HealthMatters Program Scale-Up: Multi-State Systematic Approach (
July 8-10, 2016
AADMD 14th Annual Educational Conference (

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