Lead Organization: Easter Seals Iowa
- Melanie Asbe, Wellness Coordinator, Easter Seals Iowa, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tracy Keninger, Program Director, Easter Seals Iowa, email@example.com
Partners and Collaborators Include: Polk County Health Department, Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Urban Campus, Wellmark YMCA, Open Streets concept, Iowa Healthiest State Initiative, Eat Greater Des Moines
The Polk County inclusive health coalition has made incredible strides in creating more inclusive opportunities across its community. Easter Seals Iowa, a designated Blue Zones Worksite®, leads the IHC and runs a garden program and skills training class in which clients with disabilities grow and harvest produce and sell it amongst other vendors at the enormous Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market. They are continually expanding the garden program, and are now looking at implementing it at additional gardens in the community.
It also assists in volunteer, intern, and job placement of clients, as they utilize the skills they have learned to join the workforce.
In collaboration with Eat Greater Des Moines, Easter Seals hosted a focus group of SNAP program participants at their facility. The purpose of the focus group and collaboration as a whole is to discuss incentives for those using the program that may lead them to purchase more fruits and vegetables. They have also partnered with the Wellmark YMCA as it undergoes a remodel, utilizing focus groups of people with disabilities and service providers to ensure the facility and new programming is inclusive.
Internally, Easter Seals has offered several programs and incentives to improve the health and nutrition of clients and staff. They have developed a preventative health policy to track several health indicators in clients. Staff have engaged in Better Choices, Better Health training with the Polk County Health Department, and are preparing to apply and teach skills from this chronic disease self-management program to other staff, clients, and their families. They have also created a policy to integrate a 15-minute activity break into their work day, and offer mandatory Healthy Living training for staff. Through programs and their Assistive Technology Center Lending Library, they provide assistive technology, such as activity trackers, to help improve health and wellness. To improve nutrition, they have added nutrition visuals in their cafeteria, and have increased the number of fresh fruit and healthy vending options.
These include walking challenges and moveathons, , health indicator tracking, and “moving breaks” in the work day, to promote a healthier environment for both its employees and clients, sometimes having them partner up in these endeavors.