Oregon: Oregon Institute on Disability and Development at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland

July 9, 2007

Healthy Lifestyles (HL) is a free 3-day, health promotion intervention offered by the Oregon Office on Disability and Health (OODH) at Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU). HL is designed for people with disabilities to develop confidence and skills to stay on a journey toward a healthy and happy life. This workshop is facilitated by trainers with and without disabilities, and is appropriate for people with all types of disabilities, including people with mild to moderate cognitive abilities. To date, over 450 people with disabilities in Oregon and SW Washington have participated in HL workshops.

Healthy Lifestyles uses an integrated wellness and empowerment approach and provides participants with knowledge and skills to adopt healthier behaviors. The curriculum covers all aspects e.g., social health, physical health, emotional health, spiritual health, and health through meaningful activities. After completion of the workshop, HL support groups meet once a month for six months. During these meetings, participants share their successes and challenges in meeting their self-identified goals and a guest speaker leads a discussion on a health-related topic.

Celebrate Wellness (CW) is an annual conference (2006 was our seventh annual) promoting health, fitness, social inclusion, consumer awareness, youth transition and overall wellness for people with disabilities. Conference attendees include, people with disabilities and their family members as well as service providers, researchers, educators and businesses that serve people with disabilities. Celebrate Wellness addresses the substantial need for participatory and educational opportunities that specifically target people with disabilities, and influence current health practices. The conference is based on an integrated paradigm incorporating medical, functional, and social approaches to disability. This premise supports the need for educational interventions that promote the following: 1) a positive and accurate depiction of disability and its dimensions; 2) the idea that people with disabilities should not be considered "sick" or "unhealthy;" 3) that everyone, with or without a disability, can choose to lead a healthy lifestyle; and 4) that a healthy lifestyle means being proactive and participating in health and wellness efforts that best suit personal needs, interests, and abilities. The conference supports these assumptions by providing conference participants with the opportunity to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to lead a healthy lifestyle. It also provides a much needed opportunity for a diverse group of individuals to come together and share their knowledge, expertise, and experiences in health and wellness for the benefit of people with disabilities.