|Community Support Services (CSS) (Brookfield, IL) was awarded a $12,000 grant based on the Exercise Connection (EC) Program at the end of 2011. This grant was awarded from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois - Healthy Kids, Healthy Families Grant. The EC and CSS were to target four locations (Cicero, La Grange, Oak Park,), providing them the resources they need to implement successful exercise programs for the individuals with special needs and the families they serve.
The EC began in 2012 by working with CSS Staff and participants at their Beth Lacey Center (Cicero, IL). CSS hosts a monthly Parent Night Out where the parents drop off their children with special needs and their siblings, to work with their peers, build relationships, eat, make art work and exercise. Here the EC started to implement structured exercise programs, including visuals and sensory supports needed to establish a successful exercise environment. Within a few months the children saw much success, engaging in activities and with their peers.
As the EC continued working with the children and staff, they were also creating a DVD, building Visual Exercise Supports, writing a healthy cookbook, purchasing fitness equipment and translating the Autism Fitness Handbook into spanish; La Guia de Actividad Fisica de Autism. All this was a part of the grant and was vital to not only help the children become more active but educating the families of each child.
On January 10, 2013 David Geslak, Mary McCord and Derek Withers (EC Champion) presented all the materials to Diane Farina White, M.A. (CSS- President), Kaye Masters, MSW, LCSW (CSS - VP of Programs) and Kris Ponta (CSS - Director of Family Support). CSS received 20 sets of Visual Exercise Systems, 20 Cookbooks, 10 DVD's, 15 books, T-shirts, and over $500 of exercise equipment.
David will soon do a training for all CSS staff on how to use the Visual Exercise System and implementing structured routines as well as present the information to the CSS Board of Directors.