Executive Director's Message - Now is the Time to Contact Your Legislator!

Photo of Laurie LoRe-GussakOur Florida legislature will be meeting this fall to determine priorities for the 2015 legislative session. This is our chance to tell them that people with disabilities need recreation and leisure just as people without disabilities. Please let them know that the secondary health issues associated with inactivity will cost our government more money that spending money upfront on wellness.

We are informing our legislators that obesity is an issue for people with disabilities just as it is in the regular population. We are also letting them know that these secondary health concerns can be lessened through exercise and wellness activities.

If you have never written a letter to your senator or Congress person, don't be intimidated. They are people just like each of us. It doesn't need to be typed. I can be a handwritten letter. You many want to send an email. This is your chance to use whatever method works for you to make a difference! When you send an email, please cc: [email protected] to enable us to make sure that we help get your message heard.

Many of us don't know who to contact or how. You can find that information on these websites:
Florida Senators: http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/Find
Florida Representatives: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/sections/representatives/myrepresentative.aspx

I encourage each of you to please write and tell your Florida senator and Florida representative about the importance of an active lifestyle for people of ALL abilities.

President's Message - Returning to Our Roots

photo of David JonesReflecting on our roots is important as we make strategic plans for the future.  The FDOA was created to fulfill a need.  My personal experience with rehabilitation after surviving a head injury in 1988 led me to a realization of a need, and a vision, of way to help other people return to a healthier, happier, and more productive life after enduring a major life crisis. A health and wellness mission using physical activity as the means and using recreation and active leisure as the tools.
I realized that the desire for, and participating in, an active outdoor recreation lifestyle was the perfect motivation for my own successful return to a “new life”.  The healing and therapeutic attributes of outdoor recreation that I enjoyed deserves all the credit.  The benefits of Therapeutic Recreation (TR) are well documented and now many are discovering that TR activity is one the most important missing services in our health care crises.  Therapeutic recreation is still recognized for its value but now has to be provided in a limited capacity, mostly with Occupational and Physical Therapists, and with community based programs like ours.  We have been providing this activity need awareness, information and participation opportunities, for thousands of people to benefit from for the past twenty four years..

It didn’t take us long to learn that this activity based strategy was also the same technique needed to assist individuals with developmental delays to maximize their growth and development. We have great successes in serving this very large population and have established partnerships with many other disability organizations for this effort.
Our health care professionals and researchers are now emphasizing that regular exercise and physical activity is one of the most important components to our health maintenance and wellness efforts.  We know now that physical activity is a vital and critical needed component of our overall well-being.  The facts and trends of obesity and chronic diseases is a wakeup call to us all. Sedentary life styles are killing us.  This is even more relevant for those   of us with disability, the largest minority group.   Even more alarming, the obesity rate of our youth.

The causes or blame for these conditions are numerous.  The solutions are complicated.  The FDOA is positioned to become a very important component as one of the much needed solutions.  We focus on providing awareness, education, motivation, and support for people to be more physically active.  We are helping individuals of all ages and all abilities to play a bigger role in their own long term well-being.  Our services and programs are addressing change and personal behaviors.  We are a very important and much needed piece of the big puzzle.   Societal changes and long term success will depend upon multiple strategies and collaborating partners.  We must bring Park and Recreation program managers, Health care providers, and Disability organizations to the table.   It will take all of these and others to make a difference in quality of life for the citizens of Florida.

It is imperative that our leadership understand the necessity to partner, and truly collaborate, in order to utilize the resources of our recreation and leisure providers, and   our health care agencies, to work with us to capitalize on our experience and capability   to get people more active, all ages and all abilities.    

There's an App for That

Stay accountable with your exercise plan with an app for your phone.

One free app called MapMyHike allows you to plan out a route ahead of time or will just record wherever you go providing information about your pace, elevation, speed, and number of calories burned.

Enjoy going to Vegas or betting on the horses? There is an app for you called GymPact where you make a plan to work out for one week, then bet on whether you will actually do what you planned.

Another app is called MapMyFitness allows you to map your route, track your activity, log your food, and share your progress with friends.

An app called RunKeeper allows you to track your runs, walks, or bike rides by using the GPS system in your phone. You can view your detailed stats on its easy-to-use layout, and also track your progress over time. RunKeeper even allows you to connect with your friends so others can track your achievements and goals.

Are video games fun for you? You might like the app Zombies, Run! and Zombies, Run! 2. This app plays your own music and you can use it anywhere. You have a mission, have Zombies chasing you. and have to gather supplies to stay alive. A horde of zombies after me, yes, I may run faster!

Hot5 is a free app that contains tons of pages of 5-minute video workouts that are easy to follow for anything from abs and core to yoga and flexibility and everything in between.Video workouts of all varieties and difficulty levels will give you a workout with only five moves. This app can be used as an add-on to your fitness routine or as your entire workout. This pick and choose system is great for beginners and fitness experts alike.

These are just a few of the apps available to help you get active, healthier, and happier. Which will you choose?

Traumatic Brain Injury and Depression: What You Need to Know

The recent passing of famous actor and comedian, Robin Williams, reminds everyone that depression is a real disease with real consequences. It is ironic that Robin Williams, a person who made so many people laugh, took his own life because of depression. Several studies by the Journal of the American Medical Association have shown that people with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) are at increased risk of suicide. As with any medical condition, you should immediately seek professional help with a trained doctor if you are experiencing signs of depression. However, there are a few things that people can do at no cost at home that may help.

A few ways to deal with depression: talk about it to someone; don’t blame yourself for your depression; take care of your health; maintain a daily routine; and put off any major decisions, and eat right. However, it should be no surprise that one of the big ways to combat depression is with exercise.
People who get 30 minutes or more a day of vigorous exercise report a decrease in depression. When people exercise, their body releases a chemical (endorphins) that reduces their perception of pain. It also creates a positive feeling in the body.

With so many ways to exercise – swimming, running, biking, tennis, jogging, weight lifting, dancing, martial arts, zumba, jumping jacks, etc., everyone can find the type of exercise that works best for them. So many options enables you either stick with the same type of exercise or choose a different one for each day of the week. Utilize the FDOA Resource Referral Network at http://www.fdoa.org/resources to find what programs, events, and destinations in your area are welcoming for people of all abilities.

Exercise works best when people exercise with others. This arrangement helps two people by giving each an accountability partner. Someone else is counting on you and no matter who you are, everyone benefits from more exercise. So not only are they helping you, you are helping them. However, if this is not possible, people can exercise alone. If you are exercising alone, make goals for yourself and make it a daily routine. Often times, exercise is the last thing people want to do. However, few people regret their decision to exercise because it makes them feel better.
Depression is real, and people with TBI are at a greater risk for depression.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, please seek professional help and find some way to exercise as much as possible. Remember, the key is Active Leisure for Life!

More information for People with a Spinal Cord Injury:
English / Spanish

More information for People with a Brain Injury:
English / Spanish

SportsAbility Dates, Maps and more


SportsAbility Ocala/Gainesville from Laurie LoRe-Gussak on Vimeo.

FDOA Partnership with Goodwill Industries of the Big Bend

photo of Jennifer Carter and Pernille Urban working out at the Fred G. Shelfer Center in TallahasseeFlorida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA) is excited to announce a new partnership with Goodwill Industries of the Big Bend to provide fitness and wellness activities for people with a disability or other disadvantage. The Goodwill Prosperity Center, located in Tallahassee, is an innovative approach to take many of the services people in the community need and put them under one roof. The Fred G. Shelfer Center includes three different programs -- wellness, music, and family and financial strengthening services.

The Goodwill Prosperity Center in collaboration with the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association provides individuals with disabilities or disadvantages the opportunity to be ‘fit and well’. This fully equipped facility will service all of your fitness needs with over 20 pieces of fitness equipment, group classes, and health and wellness educational sessions. This program is designed to be inclusive for individuals with disabilities or disadvantages to improve cardiovascular/aerobic fitness, muscular strengthening and flexibility. Jennifer Carter was hired to oversee this program. She has over ten years in marketing and outreach experience.  Jennifer previously worked as the Specialty Marketing Manager for Tri-Eagle Sales.  Prior to that, Jennifer was employed in the media production arena at Mike Vacilinda Productions. Jennifer has served as a United Way of the Big Bend volunteer.

In addition to the wellness program, there will be a Goodwill band led by Dr. Julian White and a band rehearsal hall with practice rooms in the Goodwill Prosperity Center. In order to help community members develop financially responsible habits, the Goodwill Prosperity Center will include family and financial strengthening services. Members will have the ability to achieve healthy lifestyles, an appreciation for musical art and financial independence.  This pioneering center is a model for communities looking to developing centers to strengthen their communities.

Help Support FDOA Programs - Donate Now

FDOA gratefully accepts tax deductible donations and in-kind gifts as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. (Federal ID# 59-3051552)