Press Releases

Newsletter Volume 2, Issue 1 (January/February 2017)

Project SEARCH at Cincinnati Children's Awarded Grant from Ohio DD Council to Incorporate Health Matters Curriculum

Cincinnati, OH - Cincinnati Children’s has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council to study Healthy Lifestyles for People with Disabilities. The goal of the project is to incorporate Health Matters Curriculum, a health education curriculum specifically designed for people with developmental disabilities, into Project SEARCH and create and test a clear set of guidelines for integration. The aim is to provide a general model for introducing health and fitness education into high school transition, a critical life stage for establishing patterns and habits for healthy and successful adult life.The proposed project leverages a partnership between Project SEARCH and UnitedHealthcare Community & State (UHC). Through this partnership, UHC purchased Health Matters Curriculum for distribution to all 430 Project SEARCH program sites.
Project SEARCH at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will be the lead organization, and will partner with the following organizations to carry out this project:
“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, which gives young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities the tools that they need to adopt a healthy lifestyle.”
-Erin Riehle, Director and Co-founder, Project SEARCH
“Health Matters is a perfect addition to Project SEARCH. It takes the community engagement that starts in the workplace, and expands it to the park, the gym, the pool, and beyond. It will build on the confidence and independence that young people gain in Project SEARCH and add a vital new dimension to quality of life.”
-Susie Rutkowski, Co-director and Educational Specialist, Project SEARCH
About Project SEARCH:
Project SEARCH is a program based at Cincinnati Children’s designed to help young people with developmental disabilities prepare for and achieve competitive employment. For more information, visit

Maryellen Daston, PhD

Seeking Organizations to participate!
An informational webinar about HealthMatters, Maryland! Initiative will be held on January 25th (2pm-3pm EST). Please REGISTER HERE to attend.

For more information visit
HealthMatters, Maryland! webpage.


Seven DD Provider Organizations who provide services to people with I/DD in North Carolina VAYA Health network are participating in HealthMatters Program Webinar Training. The HealthMatters, North Carolina! is a health promotion initiative aimed at improving health and health promotion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) throughout the state of North Carolina. HealthMatters Program team will assist provider organizations to promote healthy lifestyles to people with IDD while meeting the requirements of the National Core Indicators (wellness indicators).

For more information visi
t HealthMatters, North Carolina! webpage.

January is a Thyroid Awareness Month
National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) has created a helpful Are you getting screened? resource page on the screening resources for people with disabilities.


WEBINAR - January 25, 2017 (3pm-4pm CST)
Maltreatment of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

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

SEMINAR - March 20-22, 2017 (Washington DC)
Disability Policy Seminar 2017

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Seven NC Organizations Participating in HealthMatters Program

Newsletter Volume 1, Issue 7 (November/December 2016)


HealthMatters Program Logo-north carolina-RGB-72
North Carolina organization receives grant to implement HealthMatters Program Read More...

HealthMatters Program Team Consulting on Walmart Foundation Grant to AUCD “Nutrition is for Everyone”

Walmart Foundation Grant to AUCD Expands Nutrition Efforts for People with Disabilities in Four States Read More...

HealthMatters Program Scale Up project part of the newly funded RRTCDD

Chicago, IL

HealthMatters Program Team is proud to announce the
University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Institute on Disability and Human Development (IDHD) received a five year 4.375 million dollar grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) for the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Developmental Disabilities and Health (RRTCDD). The new center aims to promote the involvement of people with disabilities and their families within the fabric of their community, enable them to access the health and long-term services and supports they require throughout their lifespan, and help them attain a healthy, personally meaningful, and socially relevant life.

Center research projects focus on three core areas: a) 
health surveillance, b) health promotion, and c) health care access with the following goals: 1) increasing understanding of health status, health access, and health behaviors of people with I/DD, 2) improving the health and function of persons with I/DD through health promotion interventions, and 3) improving health care access through integrated care practices. 

*Check out our HealthMatters Program Scale-Up.*

ARCA Starts HealthMessages Program

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Health Messages_Logo_Color (72 dpi)

ARCA will be starting the HealthMessages Program! Individuals in ARCA’s day program will be teaching their peers and seniors at a local community center about health promotion.

For more information please contact Arielle Bernier Oetzel.

NorthPointe Resources Starts New Peer to Peer HealthMessages Program

Zion, Illinois
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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!