Category Archives: Health & Wellness

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See Abilities, Think Possibilities: ARC of Davidson County

By Teresa McKeon

 

In the early 1950s, life was very different for people born with a developmental disability. It was common for doctors to recommend institutionalization for someone with a low IQ or a diagnosis of Down syndrome. However, a group of parents in Davidson County refused to accept this as a standard of living for their loved ones and in 1951 began meeting in the basement of the old courthouse to form a local chapter of The Arc.

Self-Advocates Tevin Barnes and Pam King accept the proclamation for March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month from Mayor Newell Clark
Self-Advocates Tevin Barnes and Pam King accept the proclamation for March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month from Mayor Newell Clark

The Arc of the United States had been formed the year previously to advocate with and for people of all ages with a developmental disability to secure equal access and opportunities. Today, The Arc is the largest grassroots advocacy movement in the nation, continuing to work alongside people with developmental disabilities. The Arc of Davidson County is an affiliated chapter with The Arc of North Carolina and The Arc of the United States.

“Developmental disability” is an umbrella term that includes intellectual disability as well as others including autism, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and spina bifida. Intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) occur before age 22 and are considered lifelong. With appropriate support, people with IDD can and do lead fulfilling lives within their community.

Serving as advocates with and for people with IDD remains the foundation of The Arc of Davidson County. Over the decades, the agency has expanded to offer direct services in response to the growing and changing needs expressed by people with IDD and their families. In addition to providing resource, referral, and advocacy support, the agency manages four group homes for 23 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The people living in these residences live very active lives: some attend DCCC, some have competitive community employment, and some enjoy volunteer opportunities.

Other individuals living in the community can access additional services, including Respite, Community Living and Support, and Community Networking. These services are provided by one-on-one staff to assist with maximizing independence, while others can be offered in a small group setting.

This is the seventh year The Arc has partnered with Davidson County Parks and Recreation to provide an inclusive summer camp opportunity. Located at Davis-Townsend Elementary School, typically developing children play alongside children with IDD, some of whom have never had the chance to attend a summer camp. The Arc hires trained staff to supplement county staff, ensuring that children with complex disabilities have the same opportunities to enjoy camp as do their typically developing peers. The hope is that children will recognize we are all more alike than we are different.

Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc of the United States, presents self-advocate Felicia Hamby with the Victor Hall Leadership Award, accompanied by Bard President Libby Samuels.
Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc of the United States, presents self-advocate Felicia Hamby with the Victor Hall Leadership Award, accompanied by Bard President Libby Samuels.

The Arc staff is often asked to assist families with their child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings, providing resource, support, and advocacy to ensure that each child is afforded what is required by law – a free and appropriate education. Working with all three school systems, The Arc facilitates a spring Community Resource Fair at DCCC, bringing together dozens of providers who offer valuable information for families.

Since 2013, The Arc has worked with three other chapters to offer a statewide Self-Advocates Conference. Planned in large part by adults with IDD, the conference has brought hundreds from across the state to learn more about housing, employment, rights and responsibilities, and other elements of life and independence.

Wings for All provides a chance for individuals to make a “test run” through the airline experience. Held at PTI Airport, children and adults alike who have never experienced air travel follow the path from check in to baggage check to actually boarding the plane and circling the airport. While the plane does not go “wheels up,” the experience is a training ground for families wishing to take a plane trip, and their loved ones can benefit from this mock opportunity.

The voices of self-advocates and families continue to shape the mission, vision, and direct programs of The Arc. People are encouraged to share their dreams and have become actively engaged in their community by speaking on local radio programs, appearing before city and county councils, and addressing middle school and college students on what it is like living with a disability.

The Arc of Davidson County is accredited in Person-Centered Excellence by the Council on Quality and Leadership. Through this rigorous accrediting process, the agency commits to ensuring that people, not the agency, define what they deem as their best life. With that comes the dedication to having supports in place so that people can reach for and achieve the goals they define for themselves.

As a non-profit agency, The Arc of Davidson County relies on community support for successful outcomes for people and programs. Triad Taste, the signature fundraiser established in 2016, is an evening of food and fellowship. Local restaurants provide samplings of their food and beverages for the enjoyment of attendees. A silent auction offers items as diverse as a framed Bob Timberlake print to passes to Walt Disney World. Although Triad Taste is held in the spring, community members and businesses can sponsor the event, offer a donation to the silent auction, and become members of The Arc throughout the year.

“Membership to The Arc of Davidson County includes membership to both The Arcs of NC and U.S,” said Executive Director Teresa McKeon. “Over 140,000 people are members of The Arc of the US, numbers advocates can leverage when working to protect the rights of people with IDD.” She added, “While we rely on the financial contributions received through membership, the benefit of strength in numbers if not to be underestimated.”

Annually, The Arc recognizes people making a difference in the lives of people with IDD. Over the past several years, many of those individuals have gone on to be recognized statewide at The Arc of North Carolina’s Annual meeting in such categories as Teacher of the Year, Self-Advocate, Employer, and Inclusive Community. The Arc of Davidson County has been annually recognized as a Distinguished Affiliate, and last year, the Award for Executive Excellence was given to their Executive Director.

“People with developmental disabilities continue to face many challenges, based on society’s perceptions of what they can accomplish,” said McKeon. “While many doors have been broken down since our founders first met over 75 years ago, being fully included members of our community is still a dream for too many people.” McKeon added, “The Arc will continue to be the go-to support, joining our voices with self-advocates to ensure that all people have the opportunity to choose and realize their goals of where and how they learn, live, work and play.”

For more information, contact The Arc at 336.248.2842.

www.arcdavidson.org

www.facebook.com/arcdavidson

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Beat the Heat

Bernard Fote, MD, Chief of emergency services for Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are highly preventable with a little precaution and an awareness of the warning signs.

As the temperature rises, so does the incidence of heat stroke. From 1999 to 2010, an estimated 7,415 Americans died of heat-related causes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There were more than 480 emergency department visits due to heat-related illness during one week in June across North Carolina, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. Nearly three-quarters of people stricken by the heat were adult men between the ages of 25 to 64.

“When there’s a rapid weather change and it gets suddenly humid and hot, we see the spectrum of symptoms from dehydration to heat cramps and occasionally heat stroke,” said Bertrand Fote, MD, medical director of emergency services for Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center.

As the mercury rises, people should take several measures to protect themselves, he said. Rising temperatures can cause high body temperatures, organ and brain damage as people’s bodies struggle to cool themselves. Normally, the body’s natural cooling mechanism, sweat, evaporates off the skin to cool the body, but in extreme heat that evaporation might not be enough to cool you off.

footballheat2Dr. Fote said an abrupt change in humidity – more than a rise in temperatures – will affect the body’s cooling mechanism.

Some people are more susceptible to extreme heat than others. Those most at risk to heat-related conditions include the elderly, children, poor or homeless people without access to air conditioning, workers or athletes who are outside for long periods of time, and people with chronic medical conditions.

“The elderly are most susceptible to classic heat illnesses or heat exhaustion because they have trouble adjusting to significant changes in temperature,” Fote said. “People with high blood pressure using medication to manage that condition are also at risk because the drugs affect the fluid levels in the body.”

Exertional heat illness can affect athletes who try to maintain their normal fitness routines but haven’t yet acclimated to a rise in humidity or heat, he added.

What’s the difference between heat stroke and exhaustion?

The difference between these two heat-related conditions is in the symptoms and severity.

According to the CDC, symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • A pulse that is either too fast or too slow
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

 

Heat stroke can manifest in other ways, including:

 

  • A body temperature higher than 103 degrees
  • Skin that feels hot, red or moist to the touch
  • A quick and strong pulse
  • Unconsciousness

 

“People can appear confused or they may be delirious or suffer hallucinations,” adds Dr. Fote.

When symptoms of heat exhaustion are present, experts suggest seeking a cooler location, loosening clothes, lying down, and drinking water. Also, applying cool, wet cloths to face and body can help cool you down. If you are vomiting uncontrollably, you should seek medical attention.

With symptoms of heat stroke, the CDC says to call 911 right away. As with heat exhaustion, the person should move to a cooler spot and have cold compresses applied to the body. The agency says not to drink fluids.

Preventing heat-related illness

To stay healthy during a heat wave, the CDC recommends the following preventive measures.

Keep your body cool by staying in an air conditioned environment. If you don’t have access to air conditioning, find a public shelter where you can. Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing. Take cool showers.

Because it’s easy to quickly become dehydrated when it gets really hot, it is important to drink more water than usual and not to wait until you feel thirsty to do so. Avoid dehydrating drinks such as alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks.

Dr. Fote said replenishing electrolytes is important, too. Sports drinks like Gatorade or an electrolyte-infused water like Smartwater help replenish lost electrolytes.

The doctor said people should make sure their elderly neighbors stay safe and have working air conditioning. “If you’re working outside or exercising, remember to take a break and cool off,” he stressed.

The CDC also recommends checking in on vulnerable neighbors in the community, never leaving a child or a pet unattended in a car, and bringing pets in from outside. For more information, visit Novanthealth.org.

Silhouette young woman, exercise on the beach at sunset.

BYOB: Bring Your Own Workout for Summer Vacations

By Jen Fuller-Allen

J Smith Young Y.M.C.A Programs Director

Vacations are a wonderful opportunity to relax, unwind and enjoy a chance to take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Vacations were designed for us to rest, but some worry that all their hard work in the gym will go down the drain after a week or so of vacation. Not to worry. Your body will benefit from a small break and from the variation of your normal routine.

Your first option is truly to rest. Take a few days to let your body recover from exercise, catch up on your sleep and give yourself a chance truly to relax. Resting is just as important as working out because it’s an equal part of the total process required to build strength, endurance, and muscle. Working out breaks down your body tissues. Resistance training breaks down muscles causing microscopic tears. When the muscle heals and rebuilds itself, you grow stronger. Rest days allow your body the time needed to rebuild.

Sleep is also an important part of the process to get stronger. Your body produces more growth hormone during the REM cycle of sleep, which aids your body in repairing and rebuilding muscles post-workout. Sleep is also a very important part of keeping you healthy in general. If you are skimping on your sleep at home, a vacation is a great opportunity to sleep a little later and help your body recover.

If the idea of resting for a week is more than you can handle, here are a few quick and easy ideas to incorporate fitness into your vacation without spending all your time in the gym with your days of rest and relaxation.

  1. Bike around your destination. Bring your own bike or rent one from your vacation destination. Use it to explore your surroundings or to go to and from dinner. For most of us, almost all of our time commuting at home is spent in a car. Try to limit your time in the car on vacation as much as possible and make your travel time active time.
  2. Try something new – you can canoe, kayak or paddleboard at the beach. Try hiking, skiing, or rock climbing in the mountains – no matter where you are, there is sure to be something you haven’t tried before or something you don’t get to do frequently.
  3. Pretend that the elevators don’t work. Use the stairs whenever possible for a little added calorie burn.
  4. If it’s within a mile, walk. Walk to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the shops across the street. Lots of short bursts of activity will add up and you will have the opportunity to see lots of sights you might have missed from the car. If you wear an activity tracker, make it your goal to hit 12,000 steps a day instead of 10,000.
  5. Stretch – use this opportunity to try yoga, Pilates, or just spend time stretching outdoors and enjoy the quiet. You can easily create your own routine, download a free app for a workout that you can follow, or visit a class.
  6. Tabata – this is a quick and easy (and super challenging) workout for anyone. Select an exercise, preferably a bodyweight one, and perform that exercise as many times as possible for 20 seconds. Work as hard as you can in the 20 seconds, bringing your heart rate up as high as possible. Rest for ten seconds and then repeat for 8 total rounds (4 minutes of total time). Use a watch with a timer or a tabata timer app to help you keep track. Your goal is to do 4 rounds of tabata total (16 minutes). A full body tabata workout would include squats, pushups, planks, and burpees. You can substitute any exercise you can think of for those listed — just be ready to repeat it for four minutes. You can break it up with some core work or add in some interval run/walking at the end to make it a little bit longer.
  7. Visit a new gym. If you have a YMCA membership, your membership is good at any YMCA through membership reciprocity, so take a new class or try out another facility. If you aren’t a Y member, ask your hotel if they have any special deals worked out with local gyms that you could visit.
  8. Play a game with your friends and family. Volleyball, tennis, golf – anything that you all enjoy and will get you moving will fit the bill.
  9. Find a hill near you – walk, run, skip, lunge, backpedal (walking or running backwards), and sprint to the top of the hill and jog back down. If you want to make it a little harder, do 10 pushups every time you get to the top of the hill and hold a plank at the bottom of the bill for 30 seconds. Repeat the entire routine for 20 minutes.
  10. Use your body as your resistance for your workout. Bodyweight workouts are wonderful – they easily incorporate your entire body and can get your heart rate up in a hurry. Look for 10 minute body weight workouts on Pinterest – you may be surprised at how difficult they are.

 

If you want a more challenging outdoor workout – try this one.

-          Walk or run to a local park.

-          Wall sit with your back against a wall or phone pole – try to hold it for 1 minute.

-          Run to the monkey bars and either complete 10 pull ups or hang on the bar for 30 seconds at a time (repeat 10 times).

-          Complete a set of 10 tricep dips off a park bench or set of parallel bars.

-          Bear crawl in the grass for 30 seconds. (Bend down and put your hands on the ground. Try to keep your back flat as you crawl forward as fast as you can.)

-          Crab walk for 30 seconds. (Sit on the ground and bridge up with your hips so you look like a table top. Walk forward on your hands and feet as fast as you can.)

-          Hang on the bar again and try to do 10 knee lifts to your chest. If that’s too hard, hold a plank on the ground for 1 minute. Complete both exercises if you want an added challenge.

-          For your finisher, complete 10 burpee/broad jumps (From a standing position, bend down and put your hands on the ground. Now jump your legs out behind you, so that you end up in the top position of a push-up. Perform a push-up and then reverse the motion quickly and come back up. Immediately broad jump as far forward as you can.)

You can repeat the entire circuit or run/walk back to your starting point.

 

Exercise doesn’t have to be confined to four walls of a gym. No matter where you are, there are lots of options to find a way to work a little activity into your day.

 

 

water

I’ll Have Water, Please!

Why you should drink more water

By Caitlyn Madore

With warmer weather on its way, take this opportunity to make sure you’re staying properly hydrated. Chances are you aren’t drinking enough water throughout the day – one of the most essential nutrients for life.

Women should drink about 72 ounces of fluids a day, and men should drink about 100 ounces a day, according to the Institute of Medicine. That’s about 9 cups and 12.5 cups, respectively. While those estimates account for water and other fluids, it’s always better to choose water over sugary drinks, soda, and juices.

Why is that? Water refreshes and reinvigorates in ways that no other liquid can. “Water impacts your body’s health as a whole in many different ways,” said registered dietitian, Caitlyn Madore. “It regulates our body temperature, carries nutrients, lubricates our joints, and protects our organs. If you aren’t drinking enough, it’s harder for your body to carry out these essential tasks.”

Water and weight

Drinking enough water can also promote overall health, including weight management.

“Sometimes thirst can be mistaken as hunger,” Madore shares. “This can lead to possible weight gain when excess calories are consumed due to what your body perceives as hunger. If you’re drinking enough water, your body won’t have to determine if you’re hungry or if you’re actually just thirsty.”

Madore says drinking water with meals could also promote an earlier feeling of fullness. If you drink a glass of water before you start your meal, you will be more likely to stick to the recommended portions.

Choosing water over soda and other sweetened beverages can also cut your calories for the day.

Dehydration

Dehydration, or not consuming enough water, can negatively affect your health. Not staying hydrated can impair our ability to achieve optimal health, including the health of our skin. Dehydration could result in skin that is dry and more prone to wrinkling. Madore added that dehydration can also cause confusion, loss of energy, weakness, and can prevent our bodies from working at their best to fight ailments.

Tips to drink more water

If you find yourself struggling to reach for more water, here are some easy tips:

  • Add your own flavor with fruit slices! Fruit slices are a natural way to add flavor to your water without adding unnecessary sugar. Try adding slices of lemon, lime, or oranges.
  • Keep a glass or bottle of water nearby at your desk or in your car. You will be more likely to drink it if you are surrounded by it throughout the day.
  • Think of the money you could save. It’s cheaper and better for you to order water at restaurants. Both your wallet and your body will thank you.

 

Caitlyn Madore is a registered dietitian and licensed dietary nutritionist at Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center.