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Healthy Living

Healthy Living

April 17, 2020
By Leslie Garcia, GOS Varsity Teacher

Being active and making healthy choices has been a hot topic in our Varsity classroom this year!  We have been having lots of discussions about drinking water, eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising, and getting enough sleep.  I recently re-read The Guide to Good Health for Teens and Adults with Down Syndrome by Brian Chicoine, M.D. and Dennis McGuire, Ph.D. and found many helpful tips for promoting good health in the home and community.  While the book is tailored to individuals with Down syndrome, I think the information is useful for everyone.

Here are some of my favorite tips and reminders:

*Health promoting activities work best if they become part of our usual, customary day.  To achieve success with healthy behaviors, we need to do them over and over.  Often it doesn’t take great big changes, but rather, little changes done repeatedly.

*For hygiene, washing, rinsing, and drying are all important.  Many adults with disabilities seem to have the “zip-zip” approach to drying and don’t get in between toes, skin folds, etc.  Washing and rinsing are obviously important, but often completely ineffective if the drying is left out.  Fungus and bacteria love to grow in warm, moist, dark places.  To help encourage good drying skills, it can be helpful for someone else to demonstrate good drying techniques outside of the normal shower time.  In addition, a timer or certain song choices can be used to help the person devote a reasonable amount of time to drying. 

*To assist with taking medications more independently, pill cases with compartments for the time of day and day of the week can be very beneficial. 

*Research shows that adults with Down syndrome were more likely to be closer to their ideal body weight if they had opportunities for recreational and social activities.  We should encourage activities that involve lots of walking and movement, such as taking stairs when possible, visiting museums, dancing, and going to parks.  Generally, turning off the TV and being more active is beneficial.

*Making activities fun is an important part of an exercise program—otherwise the person is not likely to sustain it over time.  Social activities seem very successful at motivating adults to exercise. Variety as well as repetition can promote ongoing participation.  While variety helps maintain interest and improves the fun, the repetition is reassuring, easier to follow, and helps the individual keep track of his/her own activities and remain self-motivated to participate. 

*Persistent life-long participation in exercise is important.  Look into mentor programs with local colleges, Club 321, activities through Green Oaks, or the Down Syndrome Partnership for continued activities regardless of age.  A few ideas include a Taekwondo class tailored for individuals with special needs in Keller, Miracle League baseball, and a free fitness class every Saturday morning in the fall and spring for individuals with disabilities at TCU.

*Be realistic about exercise benefits.  A two-mile walk (that burns 250 calories) to Dairy Queen won’t lead to weight loss if 800 calories of ice cream are eaten at the destination.

*Regarding nutrition, portion control is an essential part of healthy eating for everyone.  Showing the person models of an appropriate portion can be helpful.  For example, a deck of cards may be shown as the appropriate size for a piece of meat.  Also, measuring out servings of food (such as one cup of cereal) before the meal is helpful.  Purchasing smaller bowls or plates that just hold one serving can also be helpful.

*Consistency and constancy are important aspects of the nutrition regimen.  Drinking a can of soda or eating a candy bar every day can contribute greatly to weight gain over an extended period of time.  Over a year’s time, one can of soda per day adds up to 65,700 calories and represents 18.5 pounds gained.  Diet soda, while not containing calories, also has ingredients that are harmful for the body over the long-term.

*Small changes over time can result in significant weight loss.  For example, eliminating a glass of apple juice every day (about 150 calories) and replacing it with a glass of water would result in eliminating calories equal to more than 15 pounds per year.

*Dietary changes should be made both at home and as part of the person’s social life.  Better results can be obtained if the entire family agrees to try to eat healthy foods, limit problematic food choices at home, and support each other.  Families should also seek out activities that they can do together that aren’t centered on food.

*It is recommended that everyone drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day.  Not only is drinking water a healthy habit, but drinking plenty of water can help reduce caloric intake.

*Sleep is a crucial aspect of health.  Generally, all adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.  Good sleep hygiene can help people optimize their sleep.  The elements of good sleep hygiene include a nightly bedtime routine, regular sleeping hours (going to bed and waking up at the same time every day), sleeping quarters that are free from bothersome noise or light (including TVs, phones, iPads, and computers), regular exercise, avoidance of caffeine in the evening, and avoidance of exercise right before bed.

*Having friends and family who love, support, encourage, and advocate for us, no matter what our age, stage, or situation, is critical to our health and well-being.  It is important to ensure that adults with intellectual disabilities continue to have meaningful, consistent relationships in the face of changes that occur as they age.  Relationships with parents are not enough.  It is crucial to ensure the support of additional people who have a committed, ongoing relationship.  These relationships can broaden the adult’s sense of connection with others as well as soften the impact of future losses.

*We all need to encourage everyone to be as independent as possible in pursuing healthy behaviors.

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4/17/20 - By Leslie Garcia, GOS Varsity Teacher

September 2019 Blog

September 30, 2019
By Jared Watkins-Chaplain
The month of September has been a great time to worship our Lord and Savior at Green Oaks Education and Support. The students and participants have enjoyed giving their hearts to God in worship and service. Special thanks to Dr. Barry Creamer, the president of Criswell College for sharing the Word at WOW how God created everything and wants us to give Him all the praise, which goes with our Bible verse of the month Psalm 148:5.  Green Oaks Education and Support was also blessed by Charlie Pannell, David Potts, Valerie Morse, and Marla Johnson from First Baptist Arlington with their musical talents. 
          The verse of the month for the August WOW comes from Psalm 119:11, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” This verse is from the longest Psalm in the Scriptures. This Psalm emphasizes the importance of studying and understanding God’s Word and applying it to our lives. 2 Timothy 3:15-17 emphasizes that the Word of God is how the Lord has decided to communicate to us and that according to verse 15, it is what gives us the knowledge we need to come to saving Grace in our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of this, it was important to teach the students why we memorize the Word so that we can understand what Jesus Christ has done for us. All of the students got a chance to put this method into practice by memorizing Psalm 119:11, and they understood that Scripture teaches that Jesus loves us and that love is to be shared with others (John 3:16). All of GOS and GOAL this month showed love to others by serving at Mission Arlington and Hearts and Hands, and by making one of our staff members, Mr. Ken, cards and a video to show him that we love him and miss him. 
          I would like to give a shout out to one participant in particular who has demonstrated God’s Grace and love. This week one of the participants was having a rough day and got his feelings hurt by someone. He came to talk to me about the situation, and before I could give him any advice, he stopped himself and said: “It is okay because Jesus loves me and that is all that matters.” This great testimony came from a student who understood that God’s Word teaches us that God certainly does love us and that He is taking care of all our struggles, so all we need to do is have faith and trust in His Word. (Matthew 18:2-4).
          In conclusion, I hope as you read this that your heart is warmed by the love and passion that the students and participants at Green Oaks have shared. If you don’t know Christ as your Savior, I encourage you to read the Scripture to see how much Jesus Christ does love you (John 3:16). “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13


August 21, 2019
By Jared Watkins-Chaplain
          Welcome to a new year here at Green Oaks Education and Support! This year is a new year to celebrate the blessings and treasures that God has bestowed upon us. Our theme this year is "Dancing Through the Decades" as we celebrate our 20th anniversary. God has blessed Green Oaks Education and Support over the years as our Green Oaks family has grown into what we are today. We have seen Green Oaks grow from a small portable building to the building we are in today, and we also look forward to the future of Green Oaks with the Life Prep program.
          To showcase what we are about at Green Oaks and to accompany our theme “Dancing Through the Decades,” we have decided to pick our verse of the year from the Book of Psalms. Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to Him with tambourine and harp. (Psalm 149:3). This psalm is a song that calls the people of Israel to praise God for the victory that He has given them. God has given us many victories that we can be grateful for and give Him glory for, especially here at GOES. Last year we started a new monthly worship program called WOW! (Worship on Wednesdays!). WOW! easily became a testament to what the Lord is doing through the lives of our students and participants. I personally got the opportunity to watch our students give praise and honor to the Lord as they worshiped Him in many ways: some danced, some sang, some gave praises and prayers to Him. I could see the joy and love that each person had during this time of praise. That is why it is our purpose this next year here at GOES to be intentional with our love for the Lord and outreach for others, including our staff, students, and participants. We will dance into the new year and give honor to our Lord by studying the Psalms each week with the students and participants during Bible study time. Each month we will post a new blog with the Psalm of the month and show how our students are growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ their Lord. We will also show how they are reaching the community and others for Christ.
          Ultimately our goal is for everything we do at GOES to bring glory and honor and praise to God (1 Corinthians 10:31). This past week during professional development, the staff  demonstrated this by working together in small groups to understand our mission statement and faith statement. Again, we desire to serve all of our students and participants and to be a light to them so that they can be a light to others.
          Finally, Psalm 149:3 reminds me of the great victory that we have in Jesus Christ when we put our trust in Him (John 3:16, John 16:33). Starting this new school year, we will strive to show others that GOES is a true blessing from the Lord and that He wants us to share all the great things He is doing through GOES.
          Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21).

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9/30/19 - By Jared Watkins-Chaplain
8/21/19 - By Jared Watkins-Chaplain