Virtual Coach: HealthMatters Program


  1. REGISTER for the June 13th, 2024 (1pm-2pm CST) Informational WebinarWebinar will be recorded, please register to receive a recording if you cannot attend.
  2. DOWNLOAD PDF of the Virtual Coach HealthMattersTM Program.
  3. APPLY online.
  4. ONE application per ORGANIZATION.

For more information, email Jasmina Sisirak, PhD, MPH at Sign Up to Join Listserv.

Important Dates and Information

  1. Informational Webinar: June 13th, 2024 (1pm-2pm CT) – webinar will be recorded. Please register so you receive an email once webinar is available for viewing if you cannot attend the live webinar. REGISTER HERE.
    Or copy/paste below link to your browser
  2. DEADLINE for Application: August 9th, 2024, 5pm CT. Approved Organizations will be contacted by August 16th, 2024.
  3. OPTIONAL Welcome Webinar: September 5th, 2024 (1pm – 2pm CT). Approved Organizations will be invited to attend this optional welcome webinar.
  4. OPTIONAL Welcome Webinar: September 5th, 2024 (1pm – 2pm CT). Approved Organizations will be invited to attend this optional welcome webinar.
  5. REGISTER FOR HealthMattersTM Program Virtual Instructor Certification webinar training (invited Organizations only):
    Option 1 Training Webinar | Tuesday, September 17th, 2023 (1pm-4pm CT)

    Option 2 Training Webinar | Wednesday, September 18th, 2024 (10am-1pm CT)
  6. Your team must attend one option. Registration email will be sent out on or shortly after August 16th, 2024, to the approved Organizations.
  7. Deadline to register for training – August 23rd, 2024 (hard deadline)
  8. START your Virtual Coach: 12-week HealthMattersTM Program within 2 weeks of the webinar training.
  9. Other questions? Contact Jasmina Sisirak at

Other questions? Contact Jasmina Sisirak at

What is Virtual Coach: HealthMattersTM Program?

  • An evidence based, behavior change health promotion program that provides community-based service providers and frontline staff strategies and materials to support healthy options and choices among people with intellectual and developmental disability (IDD).
  • Consists of a (1) HealthMatters Program Virtual Instructor Certification; (2) 12-week program that includes 36 interactive online or paper-based health education lessons and physical activity videos for people with IDD.
  • Provided free for 12-months, grant awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, The Healthy Brain Initiative Award #1 NU58DP006782-01-00 to the HealthMattersTM Program at the Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois Chicago.

HealthMattersTM Program and all its components is an evidence-based Administration on Community Living (ACL) approved health promotion program designed specifically for and by the people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With over two decades of research and translation into community sites serving people with IDD, we have reached over 10,000+ people with IDD and over 2800 support staff across 35 states and 8 countries.

What will you get with the Virtual Coach: HealthMattersTM Program?

HealthMattersTM Program Virtual Instructor Certification** a 3-hour webinar training for support staff to learn how to do the following:

      1. Access online Virtual Coach: HealthMattersTM Program using Google Classroom,
      2. Use the paper Health Matters Curriculum,
      3. Develop a Program Plan for your Virtual Coach: HealthMatters Program,
      4. Obtain strategies and resources to improve health behaviors and health status of people with IDD.

Online Classroom Materials in the Virtual Coach: 12-Week HealthMattersTM Program in Google Classroom an online single access point to 36 lessons, resources, and support which allows for an interactive communication, feedback, and collaborative learning. Participating organizations will receive technical assistance by the national HealthMattersTM Program Team members.

Health Matters: The Exercise and Nutrition Health Education Curriculum for People with Developmental DisabilitiesA free paper curriculum, which mirrors Google Classroom for all participating organizations to teach people with IDD to understand, consider, and communicate health options and choices (

**IMPORTANT PLEASE READ: Certification will be received upon completion 3-hour webinar and Program Plan activities and Lesson 1 in Google Classroom (3 additional hours). Six (6) CEUs/CPEUs provided for Advance Practice Nurses, Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LSW, LPC, LCPC), Licensed Dietitian Nutritionists (RD), Nursing Home Administrators, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professionals (QIDP), Speech Language Pathologists, and Illinois Teachers (CPDUs). The cost of the CEUs is $15 per person.

Who can participate?

Up to 10 organizations may participate. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Community based organizations (including schools and recreational centers) who provide services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (day and residential programs)
  2. Project SEARCH school to work transition sites
  3. Managed Care Organizations, AAA, SNAP-Ed, etc 

What do you need to consider to participate?

You will need to complete a brief online Application so we can get to know you, understand your needs, and your health promotion capacity. The application also helps you plan health promotion activities in your organization and understand the expectations of the Virtual Coach: HealthMattersTM Program. In order to participate, consider the following items:

  1. Obtain support from your Executive Director to ensure buy-in and program continuity.
  2. Have a good idea where and how many participants with IDD may participate (recommended 4-6 participants per group at the time).
  3. Ensure staffing capacity.
    • Identify a Team Coordinator – this will be the point person that will communicate with National HealthMatters Program Team.
    • Build a team of at least 2-3 staff members (this will depend on the number of groups/homes participating and your capacity to support them).
    • Devote 6-10 hours for initial planning and training.
    • Be able to devote 4-6 hours per week to the Virtual Coach: HealthMatters Program (this includes preparation time).
  4. Ensure technology capacity.
    • Computers, smart TV, tablets for each team that will participate.
    • Access to the Internet.
    • Ability to view Google Classroom and YouTube.
    • Set up Gmail email account. Each team will need to set up Gmail account. This account will be used to access Google Classroom for your team. For example, if you have multiple sites participating, it is recommended to have one Gmail account per site (e.g. chitown_site1, chitown_site2 or you can get creative!). To protect privacy, please do not use your personal Gmail accounts.

Supplies, space, and equipment capacity: A room/space to exercise; exercise mats, weights (we will discuss this more); printer to print handouts (optional).

Training dates of the HealthMattersTM Program Virtual Instructor Certification Webinar

Your team will need to pick ONE of the two options below to attend webinar training:

  • Option 1 | Tuesday, September 19th, 2023 (1pm-4pm CT)
    Option 2 | Wednesday, September 20th, 2023 (10am-1pm CT)

Online training platform: Zoom.
Materials to print: PowerPoint training slides (emailed to your Program Coordinator).
Mailed materials: Health Matters: The Exercise and Nutrition Health Education Curriculum.

You will need to print the PowerPoint slides and have the Curriculum available for the webinar training.

Apply via online Application

Online Application:

We encourage Provider Organization HealthMattersTM Program Team to meet to review Application Instructions and information found on and to collaboratively examine their existing efforts, capacity, and needs prior to beginning their application.

You must answer questions below via online application. You may prefer to draft the answers prior to submitting them online.

  1. Please describe how you see Virtual Coach: HealthMattersTM Program as part of your organizational Strategic Plan. What potential challenges do you foresee and what are some methods that you might implement in order to mitigate these barriers? What supports can we provide to help you be successful?
  2. Describe your current health promotion programming (please include virtual activities as well) and any relevant partnerships. Include information about what is working and what aspects need improvement. You might also describe how you have historically allocated or leveraged resources to connect with community opportunities outside the organization.
  3. Please outline your plan for who will be part of your Virtual Coach: HealthMattersTM Program Team, including specifically naming the staff who will become Certified Virtual Instructors, including the Team Coordinator. Please note any stellar achievements of the team members as relates to this work.

UIC IRB Protocol #2020-0754
Development Funding provided by CCTS Pilot Translational and Clinical Studies Program
2020 (2020COVID-01)

Continued funding for 12-months through a grant awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, The Healthy Brain Initiative Award #1 NU58DP006782-01-00 to the HealthMattersTM Program in the Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois Chicago.

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