Older Adult Class Helps Retired Teacher ‘Take Charge’

Carol Wojtalik

By Dana Bright

For over four years now, Older Adult Programs at Rush has offered “Take Charge of Your Health,” an educational workshop for adults and older adults living with ongoing, chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma and high blood pressure.

During six weekly interactive sessions with trained facilitators, participants come together with others going through similar experiences to learn skills and information aimed at helping them become more confident and in control of managing their health conditions and overall health as a whole. Every so often, we have a participant who shows such enthusiasm for the program and comfort with the material that we ask her/him to go on to become a trained workshop facilitator.

Several years ago, we had the great fortune to meet such a person, Carol Wojtalik. The program had a significant impact on Carol’s life as a participant, and she has gone on to become one of our most active, dedicated facilitators. We recently asked Carol to reflect back on her experience.

Here’s her story:

Where do I begin? I had just retired from a 35-year teaching career and was waiting for an epiphany. It came in an unusual form. I received a letter from Rush Generations inviting me to participate in a program called “Take Charge of Your Health.” My primary care doctor had suggested that I would be interested. Needless to say, my curiosity for learning made me sign up for the program.

At the start, I wasn’t sure that I was the kind of person who needed to “Take Charge of My Health.” The very first session made me realize that this program was for me. It made me accept the fact that I have a chronic condition that will never be completely cured. During the six-week sessions, I became more aware of ways to handle the ups and downs that my chronic condition caused in my life.

Near the very end of my participation in this program, I wanted to share this experience with others. I asked our facilitators how I could be part of this program. They said that they are always looking for more facilitators and would notify me when the next training classes for facilitators would be held.

I have facilitated five “Take Charge of Your Health” programs. Every one of them has been a wonderful and enriching experience for me. I have met many interesting and friendly people. I believe this program was my epiphany for using my teaching skills in a different manner.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the “Take Charge of Your Health” program, both how to enroll in a workshop and more about facilitator training opportunities, please contact Dana Bright at (312) 942-7900 or dana_m_bright@rush.edu.

One thought on “Older Adult Class Helps Retired Teacher ‘Take Charge’

  1. This story is so inspiring. I love hearing stories of people who take charge of their own health, and are inspored to assist others. Learning and development are lifeling, and teaching clearly is also! Thanks for sharing this excellent story and Carol – you are AMAZING!

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