New Collaboration Seeks to Reduce Health Disparities in People with Intellectual Disabilities

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A participant in HealthMeet gets a checkup.

By Melissa Allen, ACHIEVA (The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh), and Sarah Yates, NACCHO

NACCHO and The Arc of the United States are partnering to reduce health disparities for people with intellectual disabilities (ID). The Arc recently launched its new HealthMeet® project, which is funded through a three-year, $1 million cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The goal of HealthMeet® is to raise awareness of and reduce the significant health disparities often experienced by people with ID. As a part of this program, five chapters of The Arc will hold free community-based health screenings and health promotion activities for people with ID as well as online and in-person trainings for healthcare professionals, individuals with ID and their families/caregivers, direct service providers, and medical students.

ACHIEVA (The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh) has joined four other chapters of The Arc nationwide to pilot local healthcare screenings, provide assistance with health care navigation, and offer health promotion activities for people with ID in the community.

“We are extremely excited to be chosen to partner with The Arc of the United States, The Arc of Massachusetts, The Arc of New Jersey, The Arc of North Carolina, and The Arc of San Francisco to be part of this project and provide free health screenings across our region,” says Nancy Murray, President, The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh. “These screenings will allow us to collect data on the health of people with ID and provide training and information on healthy lifestyles.”

Screenings in Pittsburgh began in March. “ACHIEVA has gotten off to a great start by screening our first 173 individuals and we have collected valuable health data during the screenings,” says HealthMeet® screening coordinator Melissa Allen. “We are providing wellness informational brochures and encouraging healthy lifestyles by giving participants a gift bag at the end of their screening.”

Eruption Athletics, a personal training program for men and women with disabilities, has joined ACHIEVA’s HealthMeet® events to offer fun fitness activities and exercise guidance to those that participate. Eruption Athletics is dedicated to providing athletic trainer-certified programs to develop strength, flexibility, and wellness with a focus on men and women with disabilities. This was a unique way for ACHIEVA to partner with a business in their community to enhance the HealthMeet® event and put a fun and interactive spin on the benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle for their participants.

To learn more about how your health department can become involved with HealthMeet® screenings in your area, visit The Arc’s website. NACCHO’s Health and Disability Project provides regular updates about the HealthMeet® program in the bimonthly Health and Disability e-Newsletter. For more information or to subscribe, e-mail disability@naccho.org.

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