St. Louis Center in Chelsea, MI has been serving the needs of persons with intellectual & developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families for over fifty-two years, and now as a result of two grants obtained from the Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan/Chelsea Community Foundation, a groundbreaking program is being developed to serve the fitness needs of St. Louis’ residents, as well as persons w/IDD still living at home or in group homes. Known as the St. Louis Center Community Fitness for Life Program, its objective is to improve the quality of life for persons w/IDD by providing a “functional fitness training program” to increase the physical fitness level of residents, thereby increasing their capacity to perform normal daily activities more safely and independently.
The new program will start with an open house on Wednesday, September 5, 2012, at 6:00 p.m., so that parents and caregivers can visit the St. Louis Center and ask questions about the program. It will be open to qualified residents of the “5 Healthy Towns Project,” which includes Chelsea, Dexter, Grass Lake, Manchester, and Stockbridge.
According to SLC Development Director, Peggy Cole, “The original idea was to focus on the functional fitness needs of the residents of St. Louis Center, but the need for this program among people with special needs in the 5 Healthy Towns is great. St. Louis Center has the capacity to offer these fitness and wellness opportunities to people with special needs who do not reside at St. Louis Center and we are grateful to Fitness for Life funders for supporting our efforts.”
Caitlin Deis, a 2001 graduate of Chelsea H.S. with a B.A. in psychology from Alma College, became an employee of the Chelsea Wellness Center in 2006, and began volunteering at St. Louis Center in 2011 after working with several St. Louis Center residents at the Wellness Center. She was hired to become the part-time Fitness Specialist in September 2011, and was offered the position full-time in June 2012.
When asked about her interest in working with persons w/IDD, she explained, “While I was completing an Independent Study program during my senior year of college, I developed an interest in using exercise as therapy for persons with special needs. For them, ‘Fitness for Life’ is based on functional fitness; the ability to perform basic tasks of life more easily, safely, and independently. The program that we have developed here at St. Louis Center is unique in that we begin by establishing a ‘fitness baseline’ for each resident, and then tailor the program to meet the needs of each resident.”
“What’s unique about our approach, is that if someone is afraid of using a free-weight to build arm strength, we might use a household object like a water bottle instead. Several of our participants don’t like standard exercises, but most like to dance, and we’ve even introduced them to Yoga as a fun way to stretch and increase their flexibility and core strength. We’ve already experienced tremendous success with several of our residents, who have lost as much as 15-20 pounds. One young man here has even dropped 60 pounds through regular exercise and a change in his diet.”
The program will be offered in six week increments beginning on Monday, October 1, 2012, with Beginner to Intermediate Level training on Tuesday-Thursday nights, 6:00-7:00 p.m., and Intermediate to Advanced Level training on Monday-Wednesday nights from 5:00-6:00 p.m. Costs will be $10 for pre-screening which will be applied to the program fee if accepted, and the program fee is $48/person. Someone wishing to enroll in both programs will pay $72/person, and medical clearance from a physician will be required for all participants.
Dearborn– For those of you who don’t know what a Coney Island hot dog is, it’s a traditional American hot dog on a bun, smothered in chili, mustard, and onions. It’s a favorite treat from New York to Michigan, in the heart of Midwest America. Joe’s Top Dog Coney Island Restaurant is owned by Joe and Zoja Bojovic, and is a favorite restaurant of many in downtown Dearborn, MI. For 16 years, they have given freely of themselves in establishing the Joe’s Top Dog Outing for Charity, and for the past 12 years, it has been dedicated to the residents of St. Louis Center in Chelsea, MI.
A total of 28 teams participated in this year’s event, bringing 112 golfers to Dearborn Hills Golf Course, and everyone enjoyed the atmosphere of unlimited Coney dogs and soft drinks on a hot day that approached 90 degrees. During the dinner event, Fr. Enzo Addari, SdC., said the opening prayer before dinner, and had each of the four residents he brought with him come to the microphone to say a few words and thank the crowd. It was another great day for the residents of St. Louis Center, as many great friends continued to learn of the mission of the Servants of Charity, and one resident, Jason, got to spend the day with his sister, Kelly. Special thanks to the Bojovic Family for all of their hard work on our behalf.
CHELSEA– As the summer months roll on, so do the golf outings in support of St. Louis Center. As evidence of their importance, these outings provide opportunities for local members of the community
throughout Michigan to help St. Louis Center financially, while having a good time in the process.
The Memorial Golf Outing celebrated its 25th year in 2012, and approximately 64 golfers participated in this event, held at Pierce Lake Golf Course in Chelsea, MI. This year’s outing was held in memory of Therese Doll, the wife of longtime supporter Don Doll, and mother of Board Chairman Larry Doll.
After competing on the golf course, the players enjoyed a dinner of Italian sausage, hamburgers, and cold salads. Along with the great golfer gifts, everyone left knowing that their support went a long way towards helping the residents of St. Louis Center lead a great quality of life for another year.