Welcome to another edition of DDPC Connects. This month we will introduce you to Council Member, Jennifer Dahlstrom. We will also be highlighting the DDPC's recent Inclusive Fitness Initiative and providing some updates from our partners on the project. Make sure you check out the PrideAbility LGBTQ+ Conference happening June 5th in Long Island.
Advocacy Tip of the Month
Interested in advocating for policy change? Make sure you know your federal, state, and local Representatives! Look them up online by putting in your zip code on sites like the New York State Elections website.
Meet the Members
"On both a personal and professional level I enjoy researching and creating opportunities for my son and others."
Jennifer Dahlstrom is the mother of a son with autism who joined the DDPC after hearing about our work at an OPWDD informational session several years ago. In her professional life, Jen manages programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD). Jen's work, both at home and in her career, equip her to make contributions to improve the lives of her son and others like him.
Jen loves to travel, to visit her out-of-state family, as well as explore New York State. She stays busy swimming, picnicking, kayaking, visiting local restaurants, parks, and going to concerts with friends and family.
Jen says "the best part of being a Council Member is being able to affect positive change for individuals and families living with ID/DD in New York State." If you are thinking about becoming a Council Member, Jennifer adds this, "Being a part of the DDPC is a wonderful opportunity."
Inclusive Fitness Initiative
The DDPC’s Inclusive Fitness Initiative brought together local fitness communities and individuals with disabilities. Both Daemen College and SUNY Upstate Medical University implemented programs that provided community-based opportunities for individuals with disabilities to participate in fitness activities alongside peers without disabilities. The Yang Tan Institute at Cornell University provided technical assistance to both of these demonstration sites.
The K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability at Cornell University provided technical assistance and evaluation support to the demonstration sites during the life of the DDPC Inclusive Fitness Grant. In collaboration with the demonstration sites, they worked to develop the Inclusive Fitness Toolkit.
The Toolkit was created for fitness and wellness professionals to “enhance access to and inclusion in community fitness/wellness programming by individuals with developmental and other disabilities.”
The Toolkit has been used by Cornell Wellness to train staff on their campus how to better be equipped to accommodate the fitness needs of their ID/DD participants. The staff reported that they now have a better idea of how to ask about needed accommodations and have a better sense of how to modify programming for individuals based on their specific situations and interests. The Toolkit has also been shared with, and used by, others throughout NYS and beyond.
Daemen College implemented an eight-week exercise program called, “Get Movin” and a “Train-the-Trainer” program that helps fitness trainers understand how to better work with individuals with I/DD.
“Get Movin” classes held multiple activities, including yoga, dancing and various games that could be modified to fit each participants needs. These classes helped participants with I/DD get involved with group fitness activities.
Daemen College also offered a day-long “Train-the-Trainer” program that helped fitness and wellness professionals better serve individuals with I/DD. This program was offered four times and included instruction on: disability awareness, yoga and relaxation, nutrition, and more!
SUNY Upstate Medical University
The DDPC funded SUNY Upstate Medical University to develop and pilot inclusive fitness strategies for young adults. This was accomplished through the Fitness Inclusion Network, “Fit-In”, a collaborative, cross-institution initiative that was launched in 2013 with support from SUNY Upstate Medical University, SUNY Cortland Department of Physical Education and the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University.
Fit-In piloted a variety of “Pop-Up Events” in order to introduce inclusive physical activity and adaptive sports to the community. They did this with the help of staff from local agencies and people who have expertise in therapeutic recreation and adapted sports. Some examples of activities include an Adapted Winter Sports Day at Sunnycrest Park (sled hockey, adaptive Nordic ski, snow shoeing); Unified Yoga in the Park at Syracuse’s Southwest Community Center; an Accessible Gardening workshop in Thornden Park, and Walking and Geocaching Programs that highlighted accessible features of parks throughout Central New York. Several of these pilot programs are summarized in the "Fit-In” Guidebooks, which were made with and for adolescents and young adults who have developmental disabilities.
Inclusive Fitness activities since the conclusion of the DDPC grant
Several programs that were piloted in Syracuse Parks as part of the Inclusive Fitness Initiative are now well-established and receive ongoing support from the Syracuse Department of Parks and Recreation including: Unified Yoga, Monday Mile Passport Challenge, Accessible Geocaching, Unified Wheelchair Basketball, and an Annual Adaptive Winter Sports Day.
PrideAbility LGBTQ+ Conference
PrideAbility LGBTQ+ Conference
The DDPC is proud to announce the first of its kind, Long Island Regional conference. This conference will provide people who stand at the intersection of identifying as LGBTQ+ and also being part of the community of people with disabilities a unique opportunity to learn, grow and connect.
The conference will feature a keynote address from Brooke Guinan, a FDNY firefighter and Transgender Rights Advocate. Brooke will speak to the issue of living one's best life through self-advocacy and developing strong support networks, and will set the stage for a day filled with interaction.