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 Slippery Rock University joins 'You Can Do It' Initiative 



July 13, 2007
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Slippery Rock University joins 'You Can Do It' initiative  


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's Center on Disability and Health has launched a modified version of the federal "I Can Do It, You Can Do It" exercise initiative. The program gives SRU students the opportunity to lead 10-week exercise programs for adults with mental retardation. Students work with clients one-on-one at the Butler and Grove City YMCA's.

"This puts our students in community leadership roles, and it dovetails with our adapted physical activity minor because the student mentors are in that program and committed to improving the health of those with disabilities," said Betsy Kemeny, SRU program coordinator for the campus Center on Disability and Health.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched "I Can Do It, You Can Do It" in 2004 to improve the health of children with disabilities. SRU's version adheres to the national parameters except that SRU students work with adults instead of children.

The program targets clients living in group homes that can't afford a personal trainer. Students meet with the client and family members to assess the client's needs and abilities. 

Then they provide training and guidance in the gym to promote weight loss and healthier lifestyles, Kemeny said.

Twenty-seven SRU students recently completed the first 10-week sessions. SRU is pursuing funding to continue the program in the fall. 

"The partnership with Slippery Rock University, on our end, is a perfect marriage," said Mary Nau of the Health Care Quality Unit in Butler. The agency identifies clients for the program and provides nutritional advice.

"Obesity is a serious problem in the [intellectually challenged] population, just like it is in the general population," Nau said. "We've gathered data that also show that most of these people don't really have a regular exercise program or routine in which they're engaged."

"It's a fantastic program," added Phil Rosenbauer, executive director of The Arc of Butler County, an agency that operates group homes for adults with mental retardation. "In a lot of these cases, the residents don't get a lot of opportunities for this type of attention when it comes to health and fitness."


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.

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