Special Olympics Wisconsin has been working to provide additional access to education and resources for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) related to health and wellness activities at a local level through Healthy Communities Mini Projects. Providing access to additional opportunities is nothing new to agency manager, Kathy Gerharz of the Sheboygan Adult Program.
Windwalkers is an indoor walking program open to all athletes and family members with many athletes participating with parents and siblings. It is a casual and social program that is used by athletes who are completing in Special Olympics as well as those who do not advance. “I have aging adults that no longer complete but want to be a part of Special Olympics, but I also have athletes who use this walking club to stay in shape for their next sports season.” Windwalkers is a 6 week program, meeting one time per week, beginning mid-January through the end of February.
Windwalkers not only provides access to physical activity during the winter months, it promotes access to health education. Weekly walks include health and wellness education and resources including the importance of nutrition and hydration. “What is so fantastic about Windwalkers,” explains Jessica Chuckel, Healthy Communities Project Director for Special Olympics Wisconsin, “is that it offers additional access to physical fitness for individuals with ID AND access to education. Both are essential for fostering a healthy lifestyle.”
While Windwalkers originally developed to provide an activity for athletes who do not compete in the winter months, the benefits are far greater than imagined. Celebrating its 10th year, Winderwalkers evolved into a strong program due to local partnership development put forth by Gerharz. She established and maintains involvement by and recognition of local partners including the YMCA, Lakeland College, Liars Club, Sheboygan School District and its Special Education and Transition Programs as well as local law enforcement.
Congratulations to 10 years of success Agency #5-07 Sheboygan Adults!
If you would like more information about Healthy Communities Mini Projects or would like to start a walking program like Windwalkers, contact Jessica Chuckel at firstname.lastname@example.org.