My Health, My Choice, My Responsibility

Product Type

Contact Information

 Ordering Information  

Link to Resource

  Reproducible Forms,
  Trainer's Guide or
  Manual, iPad App
  Marilyn Vitale
  Phone: 914-493-5204
  Marilyn Vitale
  Westchester Institute for
  Human Development  
  Cedarwood Hall,
  Room 215
  Valhalla, NY 10595
  Phone: 914-493-5204 
  Westchester Institute
  for Human Development
  Product Page (bottom of
  the page)

Resources for: People with Disabilities | General

Get more information about an iPad app version of this resource HERE.

Marilyn Vitale, Mitchell Levitz, and Daniel Crimmins
Westchester Institute for Human Development
Publication Date: June 2007


14-21, 22-64

Self-regulation, Self-management, Goal-setting, Self-advocacy, Decision-making, Self-sufficiency, Personal Responsibility, Problem Solving, Coping

Increases Use of Personal Skills, Helps Identify Personal Preferences, Promotes Choice-making

Community Participation, Health and Safety, Home and Community Living, Self-advocacy and Leadership


My Health, My Choice, My Responsibility is an eight session curriculum-based group training program focusing on advocating for healthy choices on a daily basis. The emphasis is on gaining knowledge to make informed choices and the skills and tools needed to speak up for good health. Topics include being a self-advocate at medical appointments, physical activity, nutrition, being safe and healthy at home, and feelings. Participants learn the material through discussions, exercises, and visual aids. Collaboration with community resources and professionals provide additional content and expertise. At each session participants set a goal to work on for the next session that they include on a tool entitled My Health Plan. The program includes two additional tools: My Medical Appointment to be used to help prepare for a medical appointment and follow through with doctor's instructions and the Health Information Form to record health needs and medical history. A unique aspect of this program is that it is facilitated by two co-trainers: one professional and one self-advocate. Participants include self-advocates who would like to improve their ability to speak up for their health and wellness.

How the Product was Developed

A self-advocate was consulted in the development of the materials and was a co-trainer in the delivery of the program to focus groups comprised of individuals with developmental disabilities. Participants in the initial focus groups provided feedback that contributed to the development and revisions of the material.

The delivery strategy is based on Adult Learning Principles (e.g. use of objectives for each session, goal-oriented material with goal form for each session, use of visuals/photographs, emphasis on activities, connection to life experiences, etc.). The content was based on various sources: (1) Information on physical fitness was based on research by James Rimmer: Rimmer, J. H. (1997). Aging, mental retardation and physical fitness. Retrieved from website: Rimmer J. H. (2004). Introduction to achieving a beneficial fitness for persons with developmental disabilities. Retrieved from website: (2) Information on nutrition was based on the FDA guidelines: and food safety at (3) Information on feelings adapted from Ravesloot, C., Living Well with a Disability. Rural Institute on Disabilities, The University of Montana and Research and Training Center on Independent Living, University of Montana.

How the Product was Implemented

Initially, curriculum developers conducted train-the-trainer sessions to bring together professionals and self-advocates to learn how to work together, how to best facilitate a group, and how to become familiar with the material. Presently, professionals can access the Trainer's Manual to conduct their own training with TA from developers.

Self-advocates, Professional staff

Materials/Handouts, Transportation, Facilitators/Trainers, Special Room

The Extent to Which the Product has Been Used

Through train-the-trainer sessions, at conferences, at specialized workshops, and via the website.

Trainer's Manual is available online. TA from curriculum developer available via e-mail or telephone.

We trained trainers across NY State to use it in their community programs.

Professionals trained by us used it as developed, i.e. with two co-trainers (one self-advocate) and as a group program. It has also been adapted by others to use within a group living environment, as an addition to another health program, and on an individual basis.

Approximately 280 hard copy manuals have been distributed at State and National conferences thus far. We have received feedback from about 6 professionals who have used the web version including two from New Zealand.

The Extent to Which the Product or Approach has Been Evaluated


  • Pre-post outcome studies


Vitale, M., Levitz, M., and Crimmins, D. (2007). My health, my choice, my responsibility: A training program on health self-advocacy. Valhalla, NY: Westchester Institute for Human Development.

A Pre/Post survey was developed that measures the extent of knowledge and behavior in each content area of the program. A total of 63 persons completed the survey. Results showed that all had completed a health plan and about half continued to add goals to it. Other improvements occurred mostly in the first two questions about speaking up, the question about having a health plan, asking questions to the doctor, and knowing what to do when they forget to work on their goals In addition, a Consumer Satisfaction Survey (developed by the grantor, DDPC) was completed by 42 persons that showed that most persons felt their knowledge of health topics improved; skills in self-advocacy improved, health services improved, have more choice and control and can do more things in the community. A six-month follow-up Survey was given to eleven persons, which showed that ten worked on goals during the six months. The Pre/Post Survey includes 17 questions with responses in the form of "Usually," "Sometimes," and "Hardly Ever." The survey was revised a few times in order to improve understanding by participants and to capture the essential data on improvements.


Resources for: People with Disabilities | General