Lesson Summaries & Adaptations

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On this page, you will find lesson summaries and adaptations that compliment the HealthMatters curriculum

HealthMatters Lessons

The Exercise and Nutrition Health Education Curriculum for People with Developmental Disabilities has well outlined lesson plans that are easy to follow when leading your health promotion programming. It is also important to remember that there are a lot of factors that make each individual and each programming location unique and finding ways to utilize available resources and adapting the lessons to fit those unique needs is vital to success. You can follow the lesson plan exactly or find that your participants are really excited about one particular component and you end up making the lesson more so your own as you go. Keep in mind that being healthy is a choice and we all have different motivating factors and barriers to making those healthy choices and a one size fits all isn’t the best approach. As individuals we each have our own preferences which need to be respected and as many as possible options explored so that each participant can find the best fit for them when it comes to how they chose to be healthy. It is also important as a lesson leader that you don’t allow the things that you like/dislike to guide the lesson discussion and activities.

 

Lesson Summaries

For the start of the lessons, we are discussing what it means to be healthy, what that looks like to each individual, and how that might be different between participants. For an activity to reinforce this discussion we had two signs that we hung on opposite walls. One said “YES” and the other said “NO” we then got in the middle of the room and asked yes or no questions that related to healthy choices such as . . . do you like broccoli? do you like to go for a bike ride? do you go to a gym to exercise?. . . and the participants would physically walk to the side of the room and touch the wall that represented their response to the question. This was a great way to get people moving their bodies a little bit as well as learn about each other. This also provided the opportunity to start conversations about healthy choices and options.
In this lesson we discussed what it means to make healthy choices and the importance of moderation. We also discussed how we can be an advocate for others to be healthy and ways that we can lead by example and educate our friends and family. Moreover, we talked about how good choices are accompanied by positive consequences and bad choices come with negative ones. To emphasize the importance of our participants making their own healthy choices, we gave them two activity options and let them choose which they preferred.
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In this lesson we talked about how our hearts work to pump blood throughout our bodies. We learned how to feel our pulse and count our heart rate. We also watched some videos showing us how our hearts work. We discovered that different types of physical activities affect our heart rates differently. We found out that as we increased the intensity of our physical activity, our heart rate increased. At the end of our lesson, we stressed the importance of doing a cool down activity to help safely bring our heart rates back down to a normal rate.
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For this lesson we learned about our blood pressure. Participants had the opportunity to take their blood pressure measurements at different points during our physical activity to see how different types of activities affect their blood pressure.
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In this lesson we talked about the effect that good and bad influences have on our lives and our goals. We discussed both internal and external influences and participants gave excellent examples of each.
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In this lesson we discussed the importance of drinking water and how it helps our bodies. We discussed the differences between tap and bottled water, and how to check water bottles to ensure that they are BPA free. Participants discussed how much water they are currently drinking each day and set new goals to drink more water.
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Many of our participants had goals of trying new, healthy foods. A local grocery store donated a tray of fruits and vegetables so participants could try different foods. Participants were encouraged to at least try everything and we kept a list of what each participant liked so they could remember what they liked.
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For this lesson we explained the importance of breathing. We offered participants several options and techniques to practice breathing. We also did a guided meditation breathing technique activity. This lesson reemphasized the importance of choice and making our own decisions as participants were given several different activities to try and they could choose which they liked best and wanted to do again in the future.
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In this lesson we discussed different nutrients our bodies need and which foods contain them. We brought in examples of foods to help demonstrate this. We also discussed at length the difference between good and bad fats and how unsaturated fats work to unclog the bad cholesterol that has built up in our bodies.
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In this lesson participants were divided into groups and given vignette situations to discuss. The groups then shared with the rest of the class what they had talked about and what solutions they came up with. For our physical activity that day, we presented our participants with two different exercise videos and let them vote which one they would like to do; again, emphasizing the importance of individual choice.
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In this lesson we discussed ways we could reward ourselves with working hard towards our goals. We also discussed ways we could make compromises so that we are enjoying ourselves while still meeting our goals. Similarly, we also talked about ways to motivate ourselves to meet our goals.
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Celebration Ceremony

At the completion of the 12 week HealthMatters program, in place of a graduation ceremony, which can indicate that the learning and healthy choices are stopping, it is better to conduct a celebration ceremony. Some programs have decided to celebrate with a themed party like a red carpet event, or a field day full of fun obstacles and events, or even a cookout. This certificate awards participants with the status of health ambassador upon completion of the program. This provides them with a sense of accomplishment and pride as well as a sense of ownership and call to action for them to spread the word and help encourage others to lead healthier lifestyles as well as the self-efficacy and confidence to continue living that healthy lifestyle themselves beyond this program. Please feel free to print this certificate and use for your own programming! If you have difficulty typing participants’ names into the certificate, you can open the file in PowerPoint and add a text box.

 

For full descriptions of fun and healthy activities, click here!