Content sponsored by
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska


Instructor Christina Paul (in purple T-shirt) celebrates a
good workout with a group from the Ollie Webb Center.
“Fitness is important for everybody, and you have to make
it fun. We laugh every day,” she says.

at Ollie Webb

Wellness program is a blend of instruction,
encouragement and fun for those with
intellectual and developmental disabilities
By Dan McCann
Special for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska
“Let’s do a few laps here. We’re going to warm up.”
“Good job! Awesome! Are you all feeling your muscles
Christina Paul and Robbi Kolnick are bringing the energy
– to generate some energy.
Their blend of instruction and encouragement is
focused on six men and women in a HealthMatters exercise class offered through the Ollie Webb Center.
“Countdown, Mariah! Let’s go. I can’t hear you.”
On location in a fitness studio at Omaha’s A.V. Sorensen Community Center, Paul and Kolnick are moving
the group through a full-body workout on a Thursday
afternoon, soliciting requests along the way.
“Bryan, what muscles do you want to work out? Your
Over the course of the three-hour class, the group will
work their triceps, shoulders, abs and legs. Crab walking,
bear crawling — even a fitness-boxing lesson — are part
of the drill. Paul brings experience leading group fitness
classes to her role as a HealthMatters instructor.
“I think fitness is important for everybody, and you have
to make it fun. We laugh every day,” says Paul. She also
teaches a customer service and public speaking class,
and does some job coaching.
“There are no bad days at Ollie Webb,” she says.
The center offers HealthMatters sessions three times
a year to promote healthy lifestyles among those with
intellectual and developmental disabilities. Classes meet
twice-weekly for 12 to 17 weeks, combining exercise with
health education, touching on everything from nutrition
and meal planning to stress management, sleep and
work habits, and goal setting for healthy living.
As part of the experience, the group visits a variety of
inclusive community settings — from the Salvation Army
Kroc Center to Do Space — that align with the HealthMatters curriculum.
“We’re always looking for partners in the community,”
says co-instructor Kolnick.
The center has found a steady one in Blue Cross and
Blue Shield of Nebraska, whose funding allowed the Ollie
Webb Center to establish HealthMatters in 2017.
“Through this program, our agency is helping individuals
maximize their potential and have a higher quality of life
as active contributors in their communities,” says Robin
McArthur, operations director for the center.
Since its formation in 2005, the Ollie Webb Center has
supported more than 20,000 people with intellectual
and developmental disabilities and their families through
employment and vocational training, social recreation and
fitness, mentoring and more.
The ultimate goal is meaningful employment and
independent living. A few of those in this HealthMatters
class have jobs – Joannie works at Panera; Kyle at Dave
& Buster’s. Angela worked many years at the YWCA.
As they power through their workouts, posters on the
studio wall provide extra motivation: “You are amazing.”
“You are inspiring.” “You are beautiful.” “You are strong.”
At the end of this HealthMatters session, everyone is
going to be that much stronger.
“Should we do 10 more?”
“Everyone loves the positive impact this program has
had,’’ McArthur says. “The feedback from participants,
families and instructors is that the program has enhanced each participant’s knowledge of how to build a
healthier and happier lifestyle.”
“Faces of Fearless” is a storytelling series from Blue Cross and Blue Shield
of Nebraska, celebrating people living their best lives and inspiring others
to do the same.


HealthMatters instructor Christina Paul says, “There are no
bad days at Ollie Webb.”

PO BOX 279, YORK, NE 68467