Important News for Our Program Leaders, Instructors and Facility Partners

Thank you for your dedication to the Arthritis Foundation Programs for Better Living.  You have helped us to increase the reach of our programs to people with arthritis. We appreciate your dedication and commitment.

In an effort to modernize and streamline our mission delivery and focus our resources on activities that can make the greatest impact, there are a number of significant changes to the Programs For Better Living Series. By December 31, 2014, the Arthritis Foundation will discontinue all direct involvement (delivery) in the Aquatics, Exercise and Tai Chi programs.  Walk With Ease will remain a signature program, with emphasis on self-directed and worksite delivery executed through online trainings and digital consumer tools.

The Arthritis Foundation has played a significant role in changing the landscape of physical activity programs for people with arthritis. More than thirty years ago, the Arthritis Foundation worked with health professionals from various institutions to fill a void and provide exercise options for people with arthritis.  Our experts determined the need for safe and effective exercises, and because there were no options to meet this need elsewhere, worked to develop programs that met these standards.  As a result, a number of Arthritis Foundation physical activity programs evolved to what we now know as the Programs For Better Living.
    
Today, the culture and knowledge base around fitness is much better, and there are many community-based classes that incorporate the safety modifications we originally created.  We led the charge in changing the exercise culture to make it more welcoming to people with arthritis.  Our role today should be to encourage people to be physically active through any channel.  We feel we can now better serve people with arthritis by referring them to a program they can easily access. We will provide guidelines for selecting a safe and effective exercise program or regimen, based on their particular arthritis type, location and severity.  Our ultimate vision is to also be able to help people identify exercise offerings in the community that meet those criteria.  

In addition, as of December 31, 2014, the Arthritis Foundation will no longer provide oversight, conduct trainings, nor issue leader certifications for the Aquatics, Exercise or Tai Chi programs. You are able to maintain your current certification until its expiration date. After your certification expires, there are a few options for accessing online instructor training. The exercise program instructor training is available online through Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFFA) at www.afaa.com/arthritisfoundation. We are moving towards transitioning the aquatics program leader training to an online format through a third party organization by the end of the year. The Tai Chi for Arthritis instructor trainings are offered by the Tai Chi for Health Institute at www.taichiproductions.com.

The Arthritis Foundation has also formed a new partnership with SilverSneakers. They have a new program called FLEX.  SilverSneakers is hiring instructors as independent contractors to help lead this new program.  Venues can include community and senior centers, churches, and other environments, existing or to be determined. FLEX instructors establish their own classes and receive compensation based on member participation.  SilverSneakers is interested in hiring instructors who are trained to teach the Aquatics, Exercise, Tai Chi and Walk With Ease programs. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, please visit https://instructor.healthways.com/ or contact Parker McCarthy at (480) 444-5247.
 
We will continue to keep you updated as we make this transition. We understand that these changes are significant. However, they will ultimately allow our organization to greatly expand our reach through third party partners. If you have any questions, please contact your Region staff representative, Heidi Koll Pio at hkoll@arthritis.org.

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