Health conference offers chance to learn and change

The idea for the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MNCCD) to host a health and wellness Conference came after […]

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The idea for the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (MNCCD) to host a health and wellness Conference came after touring a Living Well Disability Services group home. Chief Operating Officer Rod Carlson, gave me a tour and detailed their incredible success with healthy lifestyles programming. They utilized a whole food organic diet and training for social and emotional well-being.

Living Well’s data on improved health, weight loss and lowered use of medications among residents were outstanding and I left thinking, “We need to bring this to the people.”

With that idea in mind, we began to construct a local conference that would inform clients, caretakers, professionals and family members, of the countless health options and interventions available to assist people with disabilities. As of August, we have created a title: Healthy Independent Living: For People With Disabilities, finalized a date (October 3), selected a venue (St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church, Minneapolis), along with finding sponsors, vendors, 16 breakout session presenters, a keynote speaker, a wrap-up speaker, a caterer, entertainment for lunch, and creating a myriad of marketing materials. Whew … that was a lot of work for a few short months, here are some highlights to whet your appetite.

Our keynote speaker, Dr. Henry Emmons, is a psychiatrist who integrates mind-body and natural therapies, mindfulness, and Buddhist teachings into his practice. He has developed a Resilience Training Program that is offered at the Penny George Institute at Abbott, and a renewal program for health professionals offered through the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing. He has written a number of books including the bestselling The Chemistry of Joy and The Chemistry of Calm.

All of the previous is more or less derivable from Dr. Emmons’ website, But I wanted some more interesting anecdotes that I could use to help promote his talk, so I went to hear him speak. Two things he said really struck me. First, the major contributor to being overweight is not diet or exercise like we all think. It is sleep! This was news to me but it made a lot of sense when he explained. I hope he will say more about it at his talk in October.

Second, he asked the audience what people thought was the single greatest determinate of overall health? Guesses ranged from diet to amount of stress. But surprisingly the answer was a social connection. Dan Buettner (who is not part of our conference this year) has found something similar in his research on Blue Zones and longevity. In any event, Emmons promises to greatly inform our understanding of health.

Now for breakout sessions, and just to highlight, we have presenters on nutrition, self-care, financial health, sexual health, attitude, yoga, therapeutic recreation, executive functioning, technology, and chiropractic. The chiropractic session is led by the Minnesota Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman, Sen. Jim Abeler, R -Anoka.

Lunch is being catered by Simpls, which is located in downtown Minneapolis. It will feature soups, sandwiches and salad, all with the healthy eater in mind. Come and see how delicious healthy food can be while enjoying musical entertainment by Thabiso Rowan. After the afternoon breakout sessions, we will wrap up the day with Mathew Sanford and his inspirational story. Sanford is a renowned speaker who will leave us on a positive note for the day. Also, certificates of attendance for CEU’s are available for the conference.

People with disabilities often have compromised health as part of their disability. Sometimes health is compromised by the inability to get or cook good food, or the inability to afford things like supplements that support good health. Living with a disability can be stressful, and stress compromises health. Overall it behooves us in the disability community to take a look at ways to better support the people we serve in achieving good health, and MN-CCD is excited to be offering this conference to do just that. We are especially grateful to our sponsors who make this conference possible, and we hope you will be able to join us. Registration starts August 14. For more information go here.

–Sheryl Grassie is executive director of MN-CCD.





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