Snack, Chill & Chat

Excerpt

To implement a student-led, live virtual program for people with IDD to prepare and eat healthy snacks, interact with others and practice mindfulness activities.

Research Project Summary

Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) have lost opportunities during the pandemic to engage in activities that provide them with social interaction and physical activity, resulting in documented increases in anxiety, depression, perceived isolation and being sedentary. Poor dietary habits also continue to affect this population.

Launched in 2008 by the Family Resource Network, Rowan University and Stockton University are two primary sites for the Get FIT fitness, nutrition and wellness program for people with disabilities. Mentored by faculty, students in health-related disciplines implement Get FIT, expanding the capacity of the field as these students take what they have learned into their professional practice.

During the pandemic, Get FIT @ Rowan successfully piloted a virtual, Zoom-based delivery model. Of particular success was the weekly Zoom-based meeting where clients, led by a student instructor, prepared and ate a healthy snack, followed by a nutrition game and an opportunity to socialize. Get FIT @ Stockton has also successfully piloted a virtual exercise and nutrition class for this population. Snack, Chat and Chill will be a weekly, Zoom-based session, facilitated by students at Rowan, Stockton, Rutgers-Camden and two community colleges in South Jersey for adults with IDD in their local communities. The session will incorporate making a healthy snack, nutrition education, socialization, and a yoga-based relaxation activity (a new element) to promote activity and stress reduction. The Rowan Integrated Special Needs Center and community partners will help promote and evaluate the program.

Research Project Goals

The primary goal of the project is to increase the capacity of the field by preparing health professions students to better understand and serve adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) through their professional practice.

A second goal is to create a replicable intervention that effectively improves dietary habits, increases social interaction and reduces anxiety among adults with IDD.

Research Project Objectives

• Create the content and resources for 8 program modules by June 30, 2022.

• In addition to the three participating universities (Rowan, Rutgers Camden and Stockton), recruit one community college to facilitate the program in the fall 2022 semester by June 30, 2022.

• Recruit and mentor one graduate student coordinator and 3 undergraduate research assistants by March 31, 2022.

• Recruit and mentor 8 undergraduate program facilitators to coordinate, implement and evaluate the program by September 31, 2022.

• Fifty participants will complete at least 75% of the sessions by the end of the program on December 15, 2022.