The Power of Me for People with Disabilities is a series of workshops that incorporates mindfulness, yoga movements and workshop topics to educate and empower participants.
The things I have learned the most from doing the Power of Me workshops this year are…
“Give yourself more credit because you deserve it.”
“It’s easy to just calm down if you do your stretches…”
“Body image. How strong I am.”
“Saying no – being assertive.”
Sample workshop topics have included:
- Stress Management
- Healthy Relationships
- Bullying and Peer Pressure
- Hygiene and Self Care
- Exploring Emotions
‘Power of Me’ Classes Empowering Women at Lifeworks
by Ryan Underdahl, Lifeworks, Spring 2015
Stress management, self-defense, friendship, healthy relationships: all important topics to learn about, but often forgotten when it comes to women with disabilities.
Thanks to the curriculum developed by Katie Thune, that’s not the case for a group of nearly 40 Lifeworks clients who participate in monthly classes called “The Power of Me,” which Thune developed to teach women with disabilities about topics important to their well-being.
“Our first month was stress management, the second month was nutrition, last month was bullying and peer pressure and how that looks as an adult, and today is hygiene and self-care,” Thune said during a session in May at Tula Yoga in St. Paul.
Thune, a special education teacher for St. Paul Public Schools, first contracted with Lifeworks after going on leave from her teaching job. Initially, she developed curriculum called “A Healthier You,” which Lifeworks continues to use today to promote wellness to clients.
What makes “The Power of Me” truly unique is how it brings together women with disabilities from four different Lifeworks locations who likely would never have interacted otherwise. Because there is only one session each month, Thune encourages clients to get together outside of the structured class environment and continue to practice good wellness habits.
Although the pilot program was only expected to attract 20 Lifeworks clients, it has been wildly successful, drawing 38 women and improving their happiness and self-confidence.
“When you’re exercising you feel happier about who you are,” Thune said. “It’s improving your social skills, it’s just making overall quality of life so much better, so a really positive response.”
In June, Thune brought in an expert to teach participants about self-defense, and she has plenty more ideas as the classes continue.
“I’ve done a lot of safety, sexuality, and relationship work with adults with disabilities, so we’ll be incorporating some of that,” Thune said. “A month of healthy relationships, appropriate touch, how to keep yourself safe, things like that.”
After four more sessions, the group will get together in December to celebrate the community that they’ve built throughout the year.