Mentor

The words "Mass General Brigham Spaulding Rehabilitation Adaptive Sports Centers" overlaying an image of adaptive skiing

What is Spaulding?

Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers (SASC) is a community and clinicalbased adaptive sports program located in the Massachusetts coastal regions. SASC is part of the Mass General Brigham’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Network. We offer year-round, in-person adaptive sports and virtual adaptive fitness programs to community members as well as inpatients and outpatients within the Spaulding hospitals.

How long has Spaulding worked with NCHPAD?

Spaulding Adaptive Sports has worked with NCHPAD since 2020. We were one of five organizations that piloted the MENTOR program.

What do you all do with NCHPAD?

Spaulding Adaptive Sports recruits participants for MENTOR and has a staff member, Hayley Brown, as one of MENTOR’s health coaches. Hayley recruits and onboards clients and implements programs year-round.

What are some services you provide that people may not know about?

Many people think they can only participate in Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers if they have received care from one of our facilities. However, we are open to anyone in our community. We provide over 20 adaptive sports in three main regions of Massachusetts, including the Boston metro region, Cape Cod and the North Shore region. Our sports vary per season, including water sports in the summer, skiing/snowboarding in the wintertime, and year-round cycling thanks to indoor spin classes.

How are you going above-and-beyond for participants?

At Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers, we are very goal-oriented, which allows us to make each session individualized to the client that participates in our programs. We want to know what each person values and is getting out of the sport/fitness session.   

What are some of your most popular adaptive activities for participants?

  • Summer/fall season: Kayaking, cycling, pickleball, outdoor archery and golf are most popular.
  • Winter/spring season: Skiing/snowboarding, indoor spin classes, adaptive swim, sled hockey and air rifle are our most popular winter programs.
  • Year-round sports/programs: Virtual yoga classes, virtual fitness classes, mountain biking, golf and cycling can be done year-round with SASC.

What goals does Spaulding hope to achieve for NCHPAD/MENTOR participants?

The biggest goal is expanding knowledge of community resources and empowering clients to take the tools learned in MENTOR to make healthy gains in their lives.

How is Spaulding staying on the cutting edge in this field?

We value research, training and quality care with all of our programs. We are pushing the limits of access and creating more adaptive programs as we see the need for our community.

What can participants expect to take away from in-person or virtual activities at Spaulding?

We value each person who comes to our programs and hope they leave our programs with a sense of enjoyment, accomplishment, community and a smile.

How has your partnership with NCHPAD benefited Spaulding?

  • NCHPAD Connect and MENTOR fall into Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers Pillars: Education, Advocacy, Outreach and Research.
  • The partnership connects us to a national network of like-minded organizations and rehabilitation hospitals.
  • Provides amazing lifelong resources and opportunities for individuals who have gone through our programs.

How can people find Spaulding and learn more about your services?

Mentor: What is MY SCORECARD?

The path to good health starts with better daily habits. Part of our MENTOR program is to increase awareness of the multiple domains of wellness, so we created the acronym ‘MY SCORECARD.’

Every day is made up of 24 hours and 1440 minutes, and the ‘scorecard’ concept helps participants remember that every minute of their day counts. By using MY SCORECARD in the MENTOR program, we take a holistic approach to helping participants learn to optimize their health across a 24-hour period. MY SCORECARD encourages participants to map out their health behaviors across the day, offering a much broader perspective on how everything fits together — and why every wellness domain must be considered.

MY SCORECARD

Using the scorecard daily helps participants think about winning and losing efforts to engage in good health behaviors. Eat an apple and register a win; drink a sweetened beverage and record a loss.

Assigning a hypothetical score to each behavior will help participants understand that health is a game of ‘wins’ and ‘losses’ that we all experience. It can change day-by-day and even minute-by-minute. Isolating healthy behaviors from unhealthy ones allows participants to set up short-term goals on where they need to focus to round out a day that has more wins than losses.

MY SCORECARD helps make small, incremental changes across the three dimensions of health — and across the entire day.

The road to success in the MENTOR program starts with a simple and effective way to monitor behaviors throughout the day using the 11 wellness domains (shown in the MY SCORECARD image to the right).

We live such complex lives that if we don’t monitor our health more carefully and regularly, life situations can creep up on us. Before we know it, we are more stressed, sleep less, eat unhealthy foods and get no exercise. The many things thrown at us each day can often distract our interest, awareness, or ability to stay healthy or become healthy.

The goal of the MENTOR program is to help participants live life fully and with active lifestyles. What makes the program unique is how it is customizable or adaptable based on what participants need to be successful. Our expert program coordinators help resolve any barriers that participants are experiencing in self-managing their health. And so, MENTOR (and MY SCORECARD) entails several things:

  • It’s a useful way for participants to identify and respond to certain areas of health that they may not have considered. 
  • It teaches participants to address their health across a 24-hour day. 
  • It provides participants with the understanding that they can change how they feel by changing what they do. 
  • It’s an acknowledgment that setbacks will happen – expect them – but it’s important to move on and not give up. Each day is its own individual scorecard. 

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all set of solutions. MY SCORECARD gives participants a variety of helpful, holistic options for improving overall health and wellness.

To learn more about the MENTOR program or join today, visit our MENTOR page here.

New Year Intention Setting. Mindfulness Practice with Tara Beech

The new year offers time to pause and reflect on the previous year before starting fresh. In this blog from Tara Beech, NCHPAD Mindfulness Instructor, we focus on intention setting to create a clear and focused outlook on the new year, a key element of the NCHPAD MENTOR program.

“Our intentions create our reality.”  Dr. Wayne Dyer

The new year often represents a time to reset and begin again. It can become a time of making big promises with New Year’s resolutions. However, any of us who have made resolutions in the past knows how hard it is to start new habits and keep up the momentum to sustain them. Anyone who has signed up for a gym membership in January and tried to get out of that contract later in the year knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Take a moment to pause and reflect.

First, consider – What are the things that made you happy the year before? What did you get excited about? What things happened that you felt good about?

Is there a theme tying these things together? Is there a word or phrase that represents the feeling or action?

Next, consider – What are some of the things that are challenging to you? Are you over-committed? Have you been dealing with health challenges? Do you have a strain in your relationships?

Is there an intention, such as self-care or compassion, that you can set to support you through these challenges?

For myself, I would like to be less critical of myself and others and the phrase, “Be judicious with your words” comes to mind. I have two questions to ask myself before I speak or go into deep thought that will help me remember this.

Is it kind?

Does it need to be said?

Do my thoughts reflect self-compassion and kindness?

Here is a sample of other words that might

inspire you to set an intention for yourself:

Words of Reflection

pause, reset,

gratitude, resilience,

optimism, awe,

and awareness.

Words of Change

rest, renew,

nourish, recharge,

simplify, energize,

and grow

Words of Connection

forgive, relate,

reconnect, balance,

cherish, comfort,

and listen

Choosing something that resonates for you. You might ask how you can align a word or phrase with something that will contribute to your sense of ease.

Use the word or phrase as a resource to shift your mindset when you feel caught up or stuck in narratives and stories that pull you away from your values, intentions, and hopes.

You might honor your intention and chosen word or phrase by pausing to light a candle or placing a hand on your heart.

May you encounter much joy, peace,

and love in the new year!

Warmly,

Tara Beech

Mindfulness Meditation Instructor

A photo of James Blazin over a blue and white background with the words "participant spotlight"

Tell us about yourself. Where are you from, etc.

My name is James Blazin. I am 52 years old, and I live in Griffin, Georgia.

When did you connect with NCHPAD?

I began NCHPAD programs in May of this year, starting with Coffee Club.

What NCHPAD programs have you been part of?

I am still doing Coffee Club, and just finished the MENTOR program.

What did you like about any of the programs?

I like the variety of subjects talked about in Coffee Club and the different people to interact with in both Coffee Club and MENTOR.

Tell us why you would recommend a NCHPAD program or NCHPAD Connect to someone else.

Because it is a great way to get to know others and stimulate the mind.

What brings you joy?

My relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, my relationship with my family, and my relationship with my girlfriend, Amber.

How has this impacted your life? Is there anything you’ve learned from NCHPAD that has impacted your life?

I am now more social with others, and it has helped me make friends more easily. I have learned that people come from all walks of life, and we all have our individuality, and we are not to look down on others for their differences or any other reason.

Is there a particular person you’d like to give a shout-out, like an instructor, health coach, etc?

I have a shout-out for Stephanie Ward, the Community Engagement Health Educator and Coffee Club leader, and John, who does the exercise class in the MENTOR program.

Mentor Spotlight, Emily Hornsby, NCHPAD Mindfulness Curriculum Coordinator

Emily Hornsby is a NCHPAD Mindfulness Instructor and will begin a new role this month as our Mindfulness Curriculum Coordinator.

How long have you been with NCHPAD?

I’ve been with NCHPAD for a little over six months or so.

Tell us about your background & education. What brought you to NCHPAD?

I grew up in Tallassee, Alabama, a small town in Elmore County located between Montgomery and Auburn. I graduated from Tallassee High School in 1987. I attended Birmingham-Southern College and graduated in 1991 with a double major in English and Business. I attended The University of Alabama School of Law and received my J.D. in 1994.

I went to work with the law firm Pittman, Hooks, Marsh, Dutton and Hollis in 1994, representing individuals who were catastrophically and permanently injured in some way. After the birth of my two children (and a stint as a stay-at-home mom), I went to work (in 2001) as an Assistant Attorney General with the State of Alabama, representing the Department of Human Resources in child abuse and neglect cases in Jefferson County, Alabama. In 2004, I changed jobs and began working with the law firm of Morris Haynes in Birmingham doing personal injury work representing individuals who had been seriously injured or killed in automobile and trucking accidents, train wrecks and helicopter crashes, as well as cases where individuals have been injured or killed by defective products and legionnaire’s disease. I made a career change in June of 2023 and left Morris Haynes after 19 years of law practice to focus on a career in mindfulness.

I met another NCHPAD Mindfulness Instructor, Cathy Wright, in 2019 at a silent retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. We were both enrolled in the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Training Program, a 2-year program taught by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach. Cathy and I started chatting – before we had to go into silence – and realized that we were both attorneys from Birmingham who were passionate about Mindfulness. Cathy created the curriculum for the MENTOR Mindfulness classes and was the founding Mindfulness Curriculum Coordinator for the program. Several years after we both completed our Mindfulness teacher certification training, I told Cathy I wanted to make a career change and focus on Mindfulness, so she invited me to teach in the MENTOR program. That is how I came to NCHPAD, and I am forever indebted to my mentor and creator of the MENTOR Mindfulness curriculum, Cathy Wright, for introducing me to this wonderful program and inviting me to teach.

How long have you worked with people with disabilities?

I’ve worked with people with disabilities in a professional sense since 1994, when I went to work with Pittman Hooks, a personal injury firm. I have represented a myriad of individuals over the last 29 years who have been severely and permanently injured and disabled. As a personal injury lawyer, I saw people who had recently gone through a very traumatic experience that injured them and changed their lives forever. At times, I say personal injury lawyers are, more times than not, a counselor and a legal advocate for their clients. 

On a personal level, I have worked with disabilities all my life. My dear Aunt Joan O’Daniel, was born with cerebral palsy. Upon her birth in 1946, the doctors did not think she would live very long, but through her resilience, determination, and sheer will and hard work, she has survived and thrived to age 77. She graduated high school and went to Auburn University and got her degree in library science – and she was a librarian for 20 years until she retired. She was named Woman of the Year and has received many other accolades in her lifetime.

I have accompanied Joan to doctor’s appointments, to ER visits, to the symphony, to the movies, to family reunions and to family gatherings. I’ve been Joan’s advocate at doctor’s appointments, at planning meetings at the assisted living facilities where she’s lived and at the skilled nursing facilities she’s inhabited. All that to say, I have witnessed up close and personal what my aunt Joan and other people who are living with a disability encounter on a routine basis in this country.

I also have a mother who is in the end stages of Alzheimer’s and a father who has recently been diagnosed with multiple myeloma – both of whom are in their mid-80s. I have witnessed their journey with their disease and am their only child who is living in Birmingham, so I spend a great deal of time caring for my parents and my Aunt Joan, who is in a nursing home in Birmingham.

What program or programs do you work with? How long have you worked with that program?

I work with the MENTOR program and am a Mindfulness teacher. I was introduced to MENTOR approximately six months ago by Cathy Wright.

I’m also on the Board of Directors of the Mindfulness in Law Society, a 501c3 organization that promotes mindfulness meditation and other contemplative practices to those in the legal profession to reduce suffering. I, along with my legal colleague, Susan Han, started the Alabama chapter of the Mindfulness in Law Society, where we have meditation sits, yoga classes and social gatherings. I am also the representative from the state of Alabama for IWIL (Institute for Well-Being in Law). I have spoken at the Alabama State Bar meetings and Birmingham Bar Meetings about mindfulness meditation.

What talents or expertise do you bring to NCHPAD or this program?

My talents or expertise is my lived experience in my professional and personal life. I was introduced to meditation in 2012 when I attended a family weekend at an alcohol inpatient rehabilitation center in Minnesota, where my husband at the time was a patient. I was a single mom trying to balance a personal injury law practice while raising two children and having a husband who was sick with the disease of alcoholism. I remember the family weekend at the alcohol treatment center had programs for me – the loved one of the alcoholic. They introduced meditation, which was a new concept to me. It was from that point forward that I began my spiritual journey. 

I went online and took a meditation course with Deborah King; I went to an “I Can Do It” retreat in Atlanta and heard Wayne Dyer speak; I attended a “Wake Up” festival sponsored by Sounds True in Estes Park, Colorado; I attended a retreat at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York and heard Anita Moorjani speak about her book Dying to be Me; I hired a life coach, Lee Irwin, who led me in many meditation sessions; and I ultimately graduated from a two-year mindfulness meditation course taught by renowned meditation teachers Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach to become a certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher. 

Mindfulness and yoga provided me with the resources I needed to get through some truly tough times and they have changed my life for the better, and I am passionate about sharing these practices with others – particularly the disabled community.

What is your favorite thing about NCHPAD or this program?

My favorite thing about MENTOR is that individuals who would not ordinarily take a mindfulness course and may never have been introduced to mindfulness experience it as part of the MENTOR program. It’s wonderful to see participants benefiting from the teachings.

What are you most looking forward to in this program?

I am looking forward to sharing Mindfulness with people who might otherwise have never been exposed to it.

My students tell me that the two rules we teach them (1. Be kind to yourself, and 2. Remember the first rule) have helped them to become aware of their inner critic and how they are treating themselves. This awareness of how they are treating themselves is the gateway to presence and a much richer life. 

 What hobbies do you have outside of work?

My hobbies outside of work include furthering my spiritual journey through meditation and yoga, spending time with my parents, my aunt and my children, walking in nature, and traveling.

What’s your favorite food, favorite thing to cook or favorite recipe?

My favorite food is blackened redfish. My favorite recipe is Santa Fe soup, which I cook every year the Friday night after Thanksgiving for my family.

What’s your favorite music, movies or tv shows?

I love ALL music. Music is a very important part of my life.  Music makes the world go round and brings people together, no matter their political views or sexual orientation. It is a great healer to me.

My mother was a child prodigy of sorts and played piano by ear from a very early age and continued playing in church as the church pianist when I was growing up. She instilled in me a love and appreciation for music.

I took many years of piano lessons growing up and I played the clarinet in the high school band and sang in the church youth choir. I took drum lessons for a brief period of time later in my life. I rarely play the piano but I sing every chance I get – and LOVE to listen to music!

What’s your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is: “All is well.”

Who or what inspires you?

Music inspires me; pursuing my passion of mindfulness inspires me, and all the students in my class who are doing the very best they can inspire me deeply. My Aunt Joan inspires me daily.

If you could switch careers for a day, what would you choose?

If I could switch careers, I would be a backup singer to a very famous singer. I don’t necessarily want to be the lead vocalist, but singing back up regularly and harmonizing and making music to me would be heaven.

What’s one thing (not related to your job) that you could teach someone else how to do?

The one thing I could teach not related to my job is yoga poses: how to breathe through a pose and hold it for a little longer.

A photo of NCHPAD Mentor Health Coach Hayley Brown on a red and blue graphic with the words "Mentor Spotlight, Hayley Brown's Story" on it

“Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers values partnering with NCHPAD Connect; it enriches our programs by connecting us to like-minded organizations and rehabilitation hospitals on a national level, as well as strongly aligns with our four Pillars of Excellence: Education, Advocacy, Outreach and Research.  More specifically, collaboration with the MENTOR Program supports ongoing resource development that is available to all our staff and clients.”

Hayley Brown

How long have you been with NCHPAD?

I work for Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers within the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network in Boston. However, I joined NCHPAD’s team in December 2021 as a health coach for the MENTOR program. I have been an employee with the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network since 2015.

Tell us about your background & education. What brought you to NCHPAD?

  • I am a Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist (CTRS) by background and also a Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer.
  • I attended the University of New Hampshire – Go Wildcats!
  • When COVID-19 hit, our Spaulding Adaptive Sports team started our virtual fitness programs. These programs are now a staple within year-round sport and recreation offerings. As a silver lining of the pandemic, I saw firsthand the impact these virtual fitness programs had on our clients. We built an amazing, fun, supportive community while breaking barriers for many to engage in exercise at home with adaptions and modification. Seeing the success of our virtual programs, Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers partnered with NCHPAD to implement this wellness program on a much larger scale. We could not be happier to be a part of this team.

How long have you worked with people with disabilities?

My whole life. My aunt has cerebral palsy, and I always admired my family for always including her in every aspect of our family life. This inclusion really has given me the drive to make people feel included, even at a very young age in grade school. I was lucky to grow up in Newport, Rhode Island, and worked for Shake-A-Leg, now called Sail to Prevail, during the kid’s summer camps. We would sail, paint/craft, explore, fly kites, swim and play with kids with all different abilities. In college, I was lucky enough to get involved with Northeast Passage’s quad rugby team, which continued my urge to become a CTRS.

What program or programs do you work with? How long have you worked with that program?

MENTOR, I have been a health coach since December 2021.

What do you do?

I’m a health coach, teaching the exercise classes and coaching sessions.

What talents or expertise do you bring to NCHPAD or this program?

  • I try to make exercise exciting, practical and purposeful with movements to assist with starting to feel better.
  • I love to help provide modifications and adaptions for exercises.

What is your favorite thing about NCHPAD or this program?

I love empowering clients by giving them tools and resources to excel!

Share a success story. Tell us about a time when you really saw your program working in the life of a participant.

Some great quotes from amazing people I have had the pleasure of working with!

  • “Simply, [MENTOR] is the best compilation of exercise, proper eating and emotional intelligence information I have ever seen. At 77 years old, I have had a lot of experience in exercise and sports.”
  • “Being in a wheelchair for the last five years has seemed like a handicap. Thanks to you and the MENTOR Program it feels like a challenge that I smile at.”
  • “As my world has shrunk, this really helped to expand it.”
  • “The program provided me with information and resources to live my life to the best of my ability and to make the most of every day.”
  • “I didn’t think there would ever be anything like this available to help people who want to be the best they can be! Having a limited health, mobility and cognitive body is difficult to live with. Knowing that providers realize this AND provide you with an opportunity to help get through the day is priceless.”

What hobbies do you have outside of work?

I love to do anything outside, including going to the beach, going for walks with our yellow lab and 1-year-old son, and spending time with friends and family.

What’s your favorite food, favorite thing to cook or favorite recipe?

I LOVE Sushi and love cooking stir fly and my husband’s family gravy and meatballs (red sauce).

What’s your favorite music, movies or tv shows?

  • Country music is my go-to genre. However, I love most music, especially when it’s live.
  • TV show favorites: The Challenge or Survivor
  • Movie: The Intern, Miss Congeniality

What’s the last book you read? How was it?

Little Blue Truck – our son’s favorite.

Who or what inspires you?

Moms, my mom especially, and the people I work with every day. I am inspired to work harder for them to have access to great wellness.

What’s your favorite quote?

Everyone smiles in the same language 😊

If you could switch careers for a day, what would you choose?

Food critic.

What’s one thing (not related to your job) that you could teach someone else how to do?

How to make homemade pasta!