LifeFit Program Evolves to Meet Consumer and Community Needs

As both consumer and community needs change and evolve, we will continue to seek new consumers who are looking to increase their activity level and nutritional knowledge.


The UCP Central PA LifeFit program started in November 2006 with a three-year grant from the Carlisle Area Health and Wellness Foundation (CAHWF). The grant enabled LifeFit staff to begin working one on one with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the Carlisle Area Family YMCA, in Carlisle, PA. Because some consumers were progressing more quickly than others in reaching the goals set with their physiologist, those consumers were paired in a 1:2 or greater ratio of staff to consumers.

Early on, LifeFit physiologists recognized the importance of including both family and staff members in the education experience; we taught the "We Can" curriculum from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) evidence-based parent program in order to increase nutrition education.

From September 2008 to August 2010 LifeFit staff participated in the first community based participatory research project to occur at UCP Central PA. Through a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH R03), this project helped create a partnership between stakeholders in the population of people with disabilities and academic researchers from Temple University to investigate ways to promote healthy lifestyles for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The project participants, who adopted the group name PITCH (Partners in the Community's Health), successfully created a research proposal, the Nutrition Education Grant R21, for an intervention that aims to improve portion sizes and promote healthy weight for people living in local group homes.

Over the past five years, the LifeFit program has grown and evolved from its primary mission to assist individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to reach a broader audience of consumers in need of fitness and nutrition education. Today:

  • We continue to provide fee-based services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in both Cumberland and Dauphin Counties in a variety of settings:
    • Carlisle Area Family YMCA (Carlisle, PA)
    • West Shore YMCA (Camp Hill, PA)
    • Jewish Community Center (Harrisburg, PA)
    • Friendship Center (Harrisburg, PA)
  • We provide LifeFit services free of charge for adults who participate in any of our 14 Adult Day Programs (link to adult day program locations/contacts) in both Cumberland and Dauphin Counties.
  • Our school curriculum (link to school age children and adolescents subpage) has been taught in five different school districts; among eight different classes that range in age from elementary to high school.
  • We offer fitness, nutrition, and exercise services to seniors and post rehab clients (link to seniors and post rehab subpage).
  • National Institutes of Health Grant: The Healthy Lifestyles grant (link to placeholder for NIH U13 pdf) was awarded to UCP and Temple University in January of 2010 in order to promote activities to heighten community awareness of the health risks associated with childhood obesity, especially for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Over the term of the three-year grant, we will hold a total of five Community Forums to provide the community with practical information and advice regarding childhood obesity.
  • National Institutes of Health Grant: The Nutrition Education grant (link to placeholder for NIH R21 pdf) was awarded to UCP and Temple University in April 2011 in order to teach residents and staff in group homes about nutrition education and portion control. During this two-year research project, we will provide an 11 lesson curriculum and meal planning plates to about 40 group homes in the Central PA region over a nine month period.

As both consumer and community needs change and evolve, we will continue to seek new consumers who are looking to increase their activity level and nutritional knowledge. The bottom line: We aim to become the “go to” purveyor of fitness and nutrition education among all segments of the community, in a variety of settings, throughout Central Pennsylvania.

Get In Touch

Erica Marsh
Program Manager of LifeFit
55 Utley Drive
Camp Hill, PA 17011 map/directions

Local: 717.737.3477 x 124
Toll-Free: 800.998.4827
Fax: 717.975.3333

Erica.Marsh@ucpcentralpa.org

contact Erica