The Horizons School provides a community-based educational program promoting successful transition to independent living for young adults with learning disabilities, autism spectrum and developmental disorders.
During the Summer Term of 2020, Horizons School partnered with coaches of Greater Level Training to present a virtual fitness program consisting of twice weekly chair exercises, guided yoga and stretching. The new format was in response to the global pandemic requiring social distancing. Seventeen Horizons students completed individual fitness assessments guided by faculty and coaches. Comparing data at the beginning and ending of nine weekly training sessions revealed positive results of virtual fitness sessions!
Students rated four items about chair fitness videos and live discussion with trainers using a 10-point scale. Mean scores between 7.0 and 9.0 (out of 10.0 possible points) revealed students’ satisfaction. Comments indicate their favorite aspects of virtual fitness classes:
It helps with my posture.
It was easy to understand.
I like the stretching.
Good exercises and good use of time.
Having people to workout with and not being alone.
The exercises were simple, and they got my heartbeat up. I like sharing highs and lows.
Like yoga and breathing exercises.
An encouraging atmosphere.
Students suggested as improvements:
Increase the intensity
Make them a little harder.
Add intense exercises, such as abs and cardio
Do more tree poses
Further, the majority of Horizons students noted desirable outcomes from the summertime fitness program:
I lost some weight
I gained muscle and became more flexible
My mind and body felt like they had improved
My posture is better
My brain is functioning a little better even though I have other issues
I’m more relaxed
I have more energy and am more knowledgeable about fitness
I feel balanced and am drinking more water
My body changed from the stretching
Objective data was collected for five measures (right and left leg balance tests, 30-second chair stand, modified push-up test and curl-up test). Students’ mean scores improved during the nine weeks for 4 measures, specifically balance, push-ups and curl-ups. Results of a brief virtual fitness program are encouraging!
There is much media coverage about the coronavirus (COVID-19). Horizons students may feel anxious or overwhelmed by many different messages. Help us to prepare for students’ return to campus by reviewing the following ways we will help to ensure the safety of students and staff. Click here to review our prevention practices.
Phil Klebine* came by to speak with Horizons students about his experiences living life with a disability, to give students advice and answer their questions. Phil began by talking about his disability. He was paralyzed from the chest down due to a C-5 spinal injury as a result of a car crash when he was 18 years old. Since that time, he has learned how to take control of his life, which is how he defines independence.
“You’re going to have setbacks along the way whether you have a disability or not,” he said. “It’s okay to fail; that’s how you learn about yourself and what you can do.” Phil referenced how he applied and interviewed for numerous jobs before someone gave him a chance.
“Pat yourself on the back occasionally – when you reach a goal or overcome a setback.”
According to Phil, college and post-secondary programs are about “sticking it out.” You have to have the motivation to do something. Finding purpose and meaning in life will give you the motivation you need to overcome obstacles along the way.
A key piece of advice he imparted to our students was in regards to the concept of independence. Some mistakenly believe that it means doing or being able to do everything for yourself. Phil disagrees. Independence is more about being in control of you life. You should know when to ask for help and what resources are available to you.
“Everyone needs help sometimes; never be afraid to ask for help”
*Phil is the Knowledge Translation Director for Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, part of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) School of Medicine. He started off as a client of Disability Rights and Resources and now sits on their Board of Directors.
Students with the Hearts of Horizons Civitan Service Club collected 224 pounds of canned and dry foods and $370 for the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama earlier this month.
The club is part of The Horizons School, which prepares young adults with learning difficulties for an independent life. The school partnered with Civitan International, a Birmingham based organization of volunteer service clubs, to establish the Horizons Civitan Service Club earlier this year. There are about 21 student members and five staff members.