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Family and Consumer Sciences

Ohio State University Extension


Extension Helping to Extend Total Wellness Through Alternative Education

Feb. 23, 2024

From Great Lakes Neighborhood Articles, February 2024

Ohio State University Extension, in partnership with Cooperative Extension System (CES), is extending its reach to the community by incorporating modern, evidence-based approaches to total body wellness. These approaches prioritize the participant’s role in their own healing journey, focusing on both prevention and recovery-based outcomes. Programming strategies are tailored to appeal to participants across various life stages, health continuums, and needs.

Ken Stewart, Family and Consumer Sciences, educator

Ken Stewart, an OSU Extension educator in Monroe County, shared his experiences as both a participant and trainer in three successful programs within his community. These programs offer virtual and in-person education, particularly valuable in areas where proactive health services may be limited.

Tai Chi for Arthritis

Tai Chi for Arthritis is a program that utilizes the Sun Style of tai chi, known for its smooth, flowing movements and gentle postures. It incorporates mindfulness, meditation, and breathwork, aiming to improve balance, posture, and joint strength. Ohio State University Extension supports 16 sessions, available two times per week for 45 to 60 minutes, either virtually or in-person. This program has been successfully delivered to various age groups, including older adults as part of falls prevention programming and younger students in elementary school settings. Despite differing rates of uptake among age groups, instructors find that all participants benefit physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Read More:

  • Tai Chi for Beginners video series from OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences, on YouTube
  • The History of Sun Style Tai Chi

Laughter Therapy

Laughter Therapy also known as laughter yoga, utilizes humor to relieve pain and stress and improve well-being. It operates within four key domains: general health management, pain management, mental health management, and trauma recovery. The F.I.T. model, which engages participants in goal setting through mental imagery, is employed during sessions lasting 20 to 30 minutes. This program is currently under blind peer review to ensure high quality.

Read more from the NCBI about Laughter Therapy

Silent Disco

The Silent Disco program in rural Ohio explores the therapeutic potential of music for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Participants are provided with personalized playlists relevant to their life experiences, aiming to improve mood and social engagement. Although still in its pilot stage, early indications suggest positive outcomes, such as increased social interaction and engagement.

At one Silent Disco site, a family member shared, “Using the headsets brought our family together again. My mother became engaged, and dad was delighted to see her smile once more.” Ken mentioned that the family participated in the music headset program during the recent Christmas holiday. However, it’s important to highlight that the program comes with a significant cost. On average, for just 25 headphones and playlists alone, costs around $3,000. Additionally, the program necessitates an onsite activity director to organize and assist with activities. Home caregiver kits, inclusive of six headphones, costs closer to $900.

Read more about the The Dementia Project, an OSU Silent Disco program for dementia patients.

These innovative programs exemplify Ohio State University Extension’s commitment to community-based programming and advancing holistic wellness approaches. Through partnerships and ongoing evaluation, they continue to make a positive impact on individuals and communities across Ohio.