UK HDI Part of New Health Promotion Program for Individuals With Disabilities

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sep. 14, 2016) The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute will participate with partners across the Commonwealth in a new health promotion program in concert with the Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Development and Intellectual Disabilities. The initiative, called Project CHEER, will aim to positively impact the health and well-being of Kentuckians with physical and intellectual disabilities.

The project will also be supported by the UK Colleges of Health Sciences and Education.

Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Project CHEER (Community Health Education and Exercise Resources) will include educational programs focused on nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices; adapted exercise programs promoting increased physical activity; and community partnerships promoting healthy lifestyle choices of all Kentuckians.

The programs will significantly expand the implementation of the HealthMatters curriculum under HDI’s existing Health and Wellness Initiative that has been serving people with disabilities in Kentucky for the past two years.

“HDI is pleased to be part of this innovative and much needed project," said HDI Executive Director Kathy Sheppard-Jones. "We recognize the significant health challenges faced by Kentuckians, and particularly for people with mobility or cognitive limitations. We look forward to enhancing partnerships throughout the state and providing enhanced skills and knowledge that lead to healthier lifestyles across the Commonwealth!”

According to a 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 53 million adults in the U.S. live with a disability. This constitutes a diverse group of individuals who experience limitations in mobility (difficulty or inability to walk), cognition (developmental/intellectual disabilities or behavioral/emotional disorders) and/or sensory function (vision/hearing difficulties).

"The overall health of Kentuckians with disabilities is an important issue that must be addressed,” said Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson in a news release. “We must work to erase physical activity barriers that are prohibiting individuals with disabilities from leading full, active lives and increase access to healthy food in our communities. If we are truly committed to moving Kentucky forward, we must address the health of our state — and for all Kentuckians.”

Partners who have committed support for Project CHEER include the Kentucky Department of Public Health; the UK Human Development Institute; the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Developmental Disabilities and Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago; the Kentucky Commission on Services and Supports for Individuals with Intellectual and Other Developmental Disabilities; the Commonwealth Council on Developmental Disabilities; the Arc of Kentucky; the UK Colleges of Health Sciences and Education; and Medicaid Home and Community Based waiver provider agencies.  

For more information regarding Project CHEER, contact Claudia Johnson, assistant director of the Division of Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, at 502-782-6219.

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