Special Olympics Teaches Victory Living Programs Clients Healthy Diet and Exercise Habits

Apr 16, 2014, 13:13 ET from Victory Living Programs

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., April 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Teaching healthy diet and exercise habits to adults with special needs can be more challenging than with most groups of people, but for Karlyn Emile it's also more rewarding.

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"A lot of people would say it's impossible to teach adults to adopt better behaviors. They would be wrong," said Emile, Healthy Community Site Director for Special Olympics Florida.

Recently, Special Olympics Florida, with the help of Master's students from the public health schools of Florida International University, Nova Southeastern University and Barry University completed a 10-week community health program at Victory Living Programs' Adult Day Training Program in Margate.

The first part of the program consisted of health tests and screenings – height and weight, body mass index, blood pressure, bone health density, oral screenings and more – while the second part set about teaching the adults of Victory Living Programs how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and/or improve it.

"Some of them have physical as well as intellectual/developmental disabilities. It takes a lot of creativity to get through to them. It took a lot of visual art work," said Emile. "We were very hands on about teaching them what healthy foods they should eat. We brought in plastic foods. We showed them vegetables, brown bread vs. white bread, brown rice vs. white rice, encouraged them to drink water. We also taught them to practice physical activity as much as possible – walking, push-ups, sit-ups."

Many of them lost three or four pounds. Some lost five. "Now, a lot of them are excited about exercising," said Emile. The challenge now is to keep the weight off.

To do that, Emile said friends and family members are needed to help reinforce the program. Sometime near the end of the month, Special Olympics staff members will go back to Victory Living Programs.

"We want to get families, caregivers involved because we would see a greater impact if they were. They need someone to reiterate what they're taught at home so they can be successful at it," said Emile.

For more information on the programs and initiatives Victory Living Programs offers, visit www.victoryliving.org.

About Victory Living Programs
For the past four decades, Victory Living Programs has created independent living environments for thousands of people with disabilities.  Based in warm, beautiful Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Victory Living Programs offers premier independent and supported living programs that place clients in their own individual, luxurious apartments. In addition to the top-tier supported and independent living programs, Victory Living Programs also offers an extensive array of programming to assist clients with securing and maintaining employment, learning new skills, volunteering in the community and socializing with their peers - all of which make it possible to infuse independence and transform the lives of people with disabilities. To learn more, visit www.victoryliving.org.

About Healthy Athletes and Healthy Communities
Officially launched in 1997, the Healthy Athletes program organizes screening events in a welcoming, fun environment. Screenings educate athletes on healthy lifestyle choices and identify problems that may need additional follow-up. Special Olympics Florida began Healthy Athletes with Special Smiles and Opening Eyes in 1998. The Healthy Communities initiative, which was rolled out by Special Olympics International in 2012 in 12 pilot programs around the world, was launched in Florida in March of 2013 at the Lucanus Developmental Center. Healthy Communities expands the series of single screening events to a steady presence in the lives of athletes and their families. It is an integrated health care delivery approach that focuses on the whole person through health education, training and follow up services. The Nutrition Classes offered are but one example of how Healthy Communities can change lives and health styles of people with intellectual disabilities one day and one person at a time. To learn more, visit www.specialolympicsflorida.org or call 352-243-9536.

Contact: Laurie Menekou, (954) 271-4666 (or) lmenekou@conceptual-communications.com

SOURCE Victory Living Programs