Special Olympics Wisconsin welcomed Strong Minds Clinical Directors Amy Yonker and Kelly Costigan for a virtual Family Health Forum in December. As part of SOWI’s Strong Minds curriculum, Yonker and Costigan provided a lesson on the connection between mind & body—specifically how different parts of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors affect how our body reacts.
“It’s hard for us to not talk about how impactful the pandemic has been on people’s mental wellness,” Yonker said in the program introduction. “The increased isolation, being home a lot more than we used to be, and a lot of the social things that we used to go do were cancelled—including being able to go to Special Olympics events!”
“Things like that when they happen in our world, along with day-to-day life, create stress in our lives. These are some coping skills… tools to work through some of these things that happen in our lives—very real, normal things that happen in life that we can help ourselves through.”
The group discussed six different ways to keep our minds—and accompanying bodies—healthy.
- Through Strong Messaging, we can reassure ourselves of strengths and find inspiration from within.
- Strong Breathing calms and refocuses us during stressful moments.
- Strong Stretching gets the body moving and provides relief from physical tension.
- Strong Supporting allows others to help us, but also helps others—even through simple acts like a smile or high-five.
- Strong Planning gets us organized by setting goals and how they can be best achieved,
- and finally, remembering to Be Kind to Yourself!
Family Health Forums are designed to engage families and their communities to broaden their knowledge of health and wellness as they relate to those with intellectual disabilities (ID) and families in general. The goal is to offer an environment where individuals can gain direct access to health information, resources and support. The forum is designed for individuals of all ages with ID, as well as their parents, adult siblings, guardians, and all individuals from the community.
View the full virtual Strong Minds Family Health Forum on our YouTube Channel.