The health and wellness initiative at the Human Development Institute raises awareness of health disparities, while helping people with disabilities and their support networks take charge of their health. We provide resources via lessons, videos, activities, and tips on running effective health promotion programming for people with varying abilities, as well as updates on current statewide health initiatives and ways to get involved.

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Spreading CHEER Across Kentucky with Inclusive Health Programming

Inclusion. Health Education. Collaborative partners. Disability friendly and accessible resources.   These are the pieces of the puzzle when it comes to addressing the health disparities experienced by individuals with disabilities.  The health & wellness initiative at the Human Development Institute, (HDI) in partnership with the Kentucky Department Behavioral Health, Development and Intellectual Disabilities, received a highly competitive award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to address such disparities.  Project CHEER (Community Health Education and Exercise Resources) will partner with departments across the University of Kentucky, the Kentucky Department of Public Health and more, in order to develop nutrition and healthy lifestyle based educational programs. These educational programs will include; adapted exercise programs promoting increased physical activity and community partnerships promoting healthy lifestyle choices for all Kentuckians, that can then be shared with a broader audience across the nation for any program looking to implement inclusive health programming.

The program 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 since 2014.

“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!”

“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.”

Be on the lookout in the coming months for more information and updated resources for Project CHEER to be housed right here on!

On a beautiful summer day with blue skies, cotton ball clouds, and warm sunshine, the Danville Health Partners group headed out to Hooves of Hope Equestrian Center Inc. in Lancaster, Kentucky.  This non-profit organization provides equine assisted activities to individuals with diverse needs including therapeutic riding lessons, therapeutic carriage driving and Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) therapy. Their programs are designed to provide meaningful experiences for riders with a wide range of ability levels with a focus on increasing self-confidence while building physical strengths such as muscle development, balance, and improved coordination. Their mission is to provide children and adults with diverse needs a solid foundation for developing life skills through equine assisted activities and therapies in a safe and caring environment. Following our visit, we can say with confidence that they are achieving this one participant at a time.


One of the key components of the Health Partners program includes monthly follow up meetings that occur after participants have created personal goals related to their physical, social, emotional, and/or spiritual health. These follow up meetings serve multiple purposes. First, it gives each group member a chance to reflect on the progress being made towards his or her goals. Support and encouragement are shared between partners and group members alike. This creates accountability and encourages positive social interactions. Secondly, during our follow up support group meetings participants get to give suggestions on activities that they would like to do in their local communities.  Hooves of Hope was a wonderful option for our Danville group. While there, we looked at all of the different parts of a horse and learned about what is involved in caring for them.  Hands-on activities included grooming as well as feeding various horses. We met many horses and took turns leading them in a walk around the arena. The staff was exceptional in working with all of our participants.


If you are interested in visiting Hooves of Hope, learning more about their programs, or getting involved, visit their website at

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