[I had the privilege of speaking with Judy Goldberg back in 2011. Passionate with an advocacy spirit in every sense, Judy cared deeply about empowering young women. Judy passed away on November 5, 2013. It was an honor to know her and this post is in memoriam to her work and to the continuing work of IWD...]
The Initiative for Women with Disabilities (IWD), Elly and Steve Hammerman Health and Wellness Center, located at the NYU Hospital for Join Diseases, is a comprehensive health care facility designed to empower women and adolescent girls with disability. IWD is fully equipped with an accessible GYN table, and scale, and it offers a variety of wellness education resources, “We teach the wellness aspects of disability - how to sustain a healthy life style with nutrition, acupuncture, stress management – not only to help to minimize hospitalizations, but also to bounce back easier after relapse,” says Judith Goldberg, director of the center. The wellness movement is a growing one; health care centers around the U.S. are each defining how this approach would translate for their patients.
At IWD, wellness includes two aspects.The first is reconnecting to one’s body. “We found that women in our program have lost touch with their bodies after years of cycling through hospitals. We teach them how respect their bodies, be an advocate. To be able to say no, or communicate your needs to providers," says Goldberg. The IWD staff has also taken great efforts to offer accessible exercises classes such as tai chi, chair yoga or belly dancing. “We adapt every physical activity to the level of ability to the members,” says Goldberg. IWD also has an extensive arts program, hosting classes with experts in fields of music, dance, or songwriting to name a few. The young women's program, for ages 14-21, now has 40 members on its
The social networks that have resulted are the most powerful gain from the program for its members, says Goldberg, "We normalize disability,” she adds. IWD is a model program in the skillful integration of medical care and self-care, critical ingredients for lifelong wellness in all patients. To learn more about the center, contact IWD.
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