On Friday, February 26, members from the Health and Wellness Initiative at UK’s Human Development Institute teamed up with Fayette County Public Schools to facilitate a life-skills social in which students with disabilities from local high schools came together for a day full of fun. District sponsored events provide students a chance to mingle and establish friendships. About 100 teens gathered together to take part in activities.
The theme for this quarter’s social included improving healthy eating and increasing exercise. This proved as a great avenue to raise awareness of health disparities and develop resources to help people with disabilities and their families and friends stay healthy and take charge of their own lifestyle choices. Facilitators Megan Jaspersen and Lindsey Mullis, along with co-facilitators Morgan Turner and Monica Hayes, lead students in two separate stations. In the gym, partner-based resistance-band exercises were completed. Students worked on their core strength and completed exercises that engaged their upper and lower body muscles. The groups discussed the importance of exercise and how it can be fun. Several peer mentors who accompanied the school groups paired up with the students for this activity. The other station consisted of a team competition in which students identified various food choices and where they belong according to the Choose MyPlate model. Conversation was centered around the importance of eating enough fruits and vegetables along with having a balanced diet.
Lorraine Thomas, an instructional resource specialist in the Special Education Department, noted how these life-skills socials improve the students’ quality of life. “We work with our students on basic life skills and social skills in the classroom and in the community to help our students generalize these skills across settings,” she said. “One of our goals from the socials is for our students to gain friendships with peers from other schools, hoping that they can connect with each other and build lifetime friendships. We also emphasize the importance of healthy diet and exercise and are excited about partnering with UK to help promote and increase this awareness. Our goal for this social was to emphasize healthy eating, the importance of exercise, and building relationships with peers and friends. We’re looking forward to working with UK on more fun and exciting activities that promote health and wellness.”