Get FIT Program
Get FIT is a collaborative effort with the Family Resource Network of New Jersey to improve access to wellness programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as autism and epilepsy, and their caregivers. Focusing on diet and exercise, it seeks to reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes, which are higher among this underserved, often low-income group. Specifically, Get FIT aims to reduce the risk of Metabolic Syndrome, which is the combination of risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes—both of which exacerbate each other. Get FIT uses a combined dietary and fitness intervention specifically created to reduce these risks in the target population. Get FIT provides student volunteers with invaluable experience working directly with the IDD population, thereby increasing the future capacity of the health and social service sectors to address the unique fitness and nutrition needs of persons with IDD.
In our state, no organization provides a comprehensive wellness program to persons with IDD and their caregivers, despite the documented need. Get FIT meets this need in two ways. First, adults with IDDs and their caregivers receive an effective intervention tailored to their special needs. The program fosters family support for good health and teaches families to develop positive habits at home. Second, we introduce Get FIT into other community organizations, furthering the program's impact.
We launched Get FIT in 2008 and have consistently received funding and support for the program. Last year, we served 63 participants through the Get FIT at Rowan program and another 15 participants at an onsite program we support through the Cumberland ARC. Over 70 undergraduate Health Promotion and Fitness Management students served as fitness trainers and nutrition educators for our participants, under the supervision of our Fitness Consultant (Tom Pote, who is a Rowan HPFM graduate) and our Nutrition Consultant, new faculty member Dr. Laurie Dirosa. We offer two half-time graduate assistantships each year to graduate students who help supervise and run Get FIT at Rowan. For the 2013/14, we have received two grants so far: $25,000 from the Walmart Foundation and $35,000 from AETNA Foundation.