Women United supports Chris-Fit programs for MERIT Court Participants



The Chris-Fit Program is a physical fitness and general wellness program that was developed by the Mount Vernon Municipal Court for M.E.R.I.T. Court participants and the Department of Adult Probation.  The initial concept was to encourage participants in the M.E.R.I.T. Court program to improve their health needs while working towards sobriety through abstinence from drugs.  The program got its name from an avid physical fitness enthusiast in Mount Vernon, Chris O’Hara.  Chris empowered many in the community and lost his life due to a single relapse resulting in a fatal drug overdose. Women United have announced that they will continue to support the Christ-Fit program and have awarded additional funds to support the expansion of the program to include the Chris-Fit Community Restorative Yoga.

The Chris-Fit program works with the Wellness Center of Knox Community Hospital. The Wellness Center completes an eight-session fitness assessment to tailor an exercise plan around the participant’s needs. The participant is encouraged to utilize the center on a regular basis throughout the assessment phase. Once the fitness assessment is completed, memberships to the Wellness Center are continued through grant funding. The program has incorporated several other fitness opportunities along the way to expand the Court’s commitment to the overall health of those in recovery. This past year, Chris-Fit utilized the Women United funds to purchase bicycles, helmets and safety equipment through Y-Not Cycle for individuals that are in need of both physical fitness and transportation. With the growth of Chris-Fit and the implementation of cycling, KCH has committed to implementing the “Mindfulness” series that will include classroom instruction this Fall and a Spring guided cycling series called Pathfinders. The Mount Vernon Municipal Court is also looking to continue expanding the offer of the Chris-Fit program beyond the M.E.R.I.T. Court Program to any interested probationer invested in the rehabilitative services offered through the Department of Adult Probation.  The ongoing success that we continue to see with M.E.R.I.T. Court has been tremendous.  Those involved in the program are thankful for the support of community partners, such as Women United, and looks forward to embracing the challenge of opening as many doors of hope and encouragement to those still seeking the light of recovery within the community.

The Women United grant will also support Chris-Fit Community Restorative Yoga this year as part of the Department of Adult Probation’s implementation of the integrated community recovery model. This reporting model consists of multiple community agencies delivering a variety of ongoing in-house recovery services exclusively at the Municipal Court Probation Department for M.E.R.I.T. Court participants and any interested probationer invested in their rehabilitative process. As part of a Chris-Fit Community Restorative Yoga expansion movement, the Mind, Body, and Spirit Strength Fitness Class and OSU Snap-Ed nutrition group called “Eating for the Health of it” were also added to the weekly in-house curriculum to pair recovery and healthy lifestyle choice.  Also noted, the Knox County Health Department has partnered with the Municipal Court to provide biweekly onsite medical screening and services to the visitors of the Municipal Building. The fitness classes are also OPEN and FREE to the community, promoting mentoring to those in recovery while increasing community involvement and awareness.  The goal is to continue expanding the Chris-Fit program into a full evidence-based community fitness movement. To date, the program has been very blessed to receive the support of community partners, such as Women United, and local organizers look forward to ongoing community program development that will address addiction and break through boundary issues surrounding recovery within the community.

The In-house Chris-Fit fitness classes are available through the Department of Adult Probation located at the Municipal Building at 5 Gay St, Mt. Vernon. Restorative Yoga, facilitated by Hot Yoga Escape is every Tuesday with Strength Fitness Class with class instructor Officer Julie Fisher on Thursdays. Both classes are from 12 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. The Knox County Health Department Clinic is onsite the second and fourth Tuesday of the Month from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. For further inquiries about the availability of community-oriented programs offered through the Mount Vernon Municipal Court, please contact the Department of Adult Probation @ 740 393-9555.

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