Success Story: “Attend more than one program”

“This is your opportunity to learn how to do this.  You get to be in charge now.”  Marcia Rippe of St. Joseph, Missouri, Buchanan County, shares her experiences as a leader of self-management programs.  Rippe works for the Heartland Health (St. Joseph) Arthritis Community Services office.  Rippe has served as a nurse educator for at least the past 25 years, and she provides patient education through her job.  She also volunteers with the Red Cross, with Disaster Preparedness, and in teaching CPR.  The Arthritis Community Services office provides many self-management programs.  Rippe is a leader and trainer for the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) and for the Walk With Ease (WWE) program. 

With her experience with the program, and her organization covering 12 counties in northwest Missouri, Rippe has had the opportunity to get to know many Missourians in the northwest area of the state.  At the end of the CDSMP programs, Rippe and her co-leaders ask participants to talk about what they’ve gotten out of the program and to talk with the group about how the program has made a difference for them.  One memorable response came from a participant in her 80s.  This participant told the group, “I think I have finally learned how to make decisions” through brainstorming activities.  This success, and others, “really touch my heart,” says Rippe.  “This [program] is their opportunity to learn how to do this – they get to be in charge now.”  Rippe travels from county to county and gets to interact with many rural Missourians.  Rippe states that individuals who live in rural communities are special to her because she knows oftentimes they will travel in town from a farm or to another city to attend these programs.

The CDSMP is a group format course that is offered by trained leaders in six-week increments, meeting once per week for 2.5 hours.  Participants are either persons with a long-term health condition (like asthma, arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease) or a caregiver for an individual with chronic health problems. This program which was researched and designed by Stanford University and is now an evidence-based intervention, discusses techniques to deal with health problems associated with chronic conditions; appropriate exercise; appropriate use of medications; communicating effectively with family, friends and health professionals; nutrition and setting goals.

The Walk With Ease Program is a group or individual format course.  The group format is offered by a trained leader in six-week increments, meeting three times per week.  This class, which was researched and designed by the Arthritis Foundation to be joint-friendly, includes warm-up, stretching, and cool-down exercises.  It teaches participants to learn how to safely pace themselves and how to monitor their progress while building up to walking at least 30 minutes at a time.  The individual format course is done independently, but follows the same structure as a group course.

Rippe also experiences personal benefits from leading the CDSMP and WWE programs.  The WWE program has started her on a regular walking program and she feels she can provide better support to friends taking care of themselves through her experiences with CDSMP.  To find out more information about CDSMP, WWE, and other self-management classes being held in Northwest Missouri, contact Northwest Regional Arthritis Center coordinator Debbie Braby at 816-271-7057 or 1-800-443-8858.  If you are interested in participating in self-management programs elsewhere in the state, you can find a class near you by visiting or calling toll-free at 1-888-702-8818.  Rippe says these programs are “a good healthy jump start to getting organized and to doing something you’ve always wanted to do.”

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