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Little City’s Center for Health & Wellness Celebrates its First Year of Outstanding Accomplishments

Little City Foundation’s Center for Health & Wellness is believed to be the only on-site facility of its kind in the state, providing specialized medical and oral healthcare to individuals with disabilities

Healthcare leaders,  community and business partners, all joined Little City Foundation residents, family members  and staff to commemorate  the one-year anniversary of Little City’s Center for Health & Wellness by celebrating the many accomplishments, benefits and goals it has for the future.
Located on Little City’s therapeutic, 56-acre Palatine campus, the Center for Health & Wellness provides primary medical and oral care, social and emotional behavioral health, recreational health and nutritional and dietary health to children and adults with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“The value and foundation we have here are the relationships being built between the residents and the staff,” stated Bob Shears Director of Support Services. “Many individuals at Little City stop by the center on a regular basis just to share their healthcare experience and learn more about how they can take better control of their health and wellness. It is very empowering,” he continued.
By engaging in a partnership with Northwest Community Hospital to deliver medical and oral healthcare services to all Little City residents, the need for emergency room visits has decreased 60 to 75 percent since May 2010.
Through this partnership, the center also created and implemented a 16-week long research study that focuses on dietary and fitness interventions for Little City adults. Participants are sad that it is ending soon and staff is looking at ways to maintain these initiatives on a daily basis.
Before the center opened, residents would have to travel 90 miles round-trip to Rockford to receive oral care, which added an extra level of trauma and inconvenience. With the implementation of a dental desensitization program with an on-site hygienist and dentist, there has been a decrease in the use of sedation techniques. Residents are now taken through their visit on a step-by-step basis to ensure they are comfortable and receive the care they need.
The Center for Health & Wellness includes a renovated and well-equipped Fitness Center, which was specifically developed for children and adults with disabilities, including those confined to wheelchairs. The Fitness Center provides unique opportunities and accessibility for individuals to engage in exercise activities and improve their overall health and wellness. It also includes a pool and a playground designed specifically for individuals with autism, which gives children a greater chance to use gross motor skills while playing.
A pool lift gives individuals who use a wheelchair the ability to lower themselves into the water with minimal help from staff. This enables them to feel safe and in control as they enter the pool. Little City also launched a program to teach children how to swim by using the Special Olympics guide. In addition, all recreational staff is certified to make sure more time is available for children and adults to engage in aquatic therapy.
To ensure better nutritional and dietary health, the center provides weekly nutritional classes to those in Little City’s adult program. These classes teach adults how to make better choices in the food they buy and eat. In order to compliment this initiative, the children and adult menus on campus have been changed. There is now a larger emphasis on fruits and vegetables and meals include whole grains.
The Center for Health & Wellness has many future projects it hopes to work on, including telehealth, automating clinical and medical records and expanding internships. Little City also hopes to one day have the ability to offer the center’s services to a broader regional community of children and adults with disabilities as services are presently limited to individuals who live within agency owned and operated facilities.

About Little City
Being a leader for 59 years, Little City continues to be inspirational and transformational in developing its 56-acre therapeutic community in Palatine. From a modest beginning of three homes and 16 residents primarily with Down syndrome, Little City has grown into a recognized leader offering a wide array of innovative services to more than 1,000 clients weekly. In addition to the Palatine location, Little City has a Community Services Office in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, adult service centers in Palatine and Waukegan, and 13 adult community homes and one children’s group home located throughout suburban Cook and DuPage Counties.

Today, Little City’s comprehensive program portfolio includes vocational training and employment placement, foster care and adoption, home-based family support, health and wellness, recreation and therapeutic activities, disability awareness and community education, a day school and an award-winning arts program. Visit www.littlecity.org.

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“Little City uses an affirming message – that it’s a good world, there’s a place for my kids in the world and Little City will help them find it.”

Rachel, mother of children receiving home-based support services