Thursday, January 7, 2016


Though it's been a while—more than a while—since we've posted here, we have been busy building friendships and continuing our work in the community over that time. And, now that it's the new year, we want to let you know about all of our exciting plans for 2016. Stay tuned for our next post in a couple of days.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Goodbye to Vitality in Action

The time has come for me to say goodbye to all of the wonderful people at the Vitality in Action Foundation. It has been such a pleasure to work with everyone involved in this foundation. I have learned so much about the value of Vitality in Action and their mission to help members of the community with mobility impairments to live a more vital life through recreational activities. I am walking away from this internship with many memories, but my fondest memory is from the Vitality Fair.

My first month at Vitality I was able to be involved with planning the Vitality Fair. The Vitality Fair was the first event for Vitality in Action. This event was an ice show that debuted to the community what Vitality does for individuals with mobility impairments. It also included a performance by Olympic Ice Dancer Shae Lynn Bourne. I learned just how hard it is to plan and put on such an event. It takes many long hours and teamwork with colleagues to put on an event and to get people to come to the event. Once all the hard work and planning was over, it was time to sit back and enjoy the show. Watching the founder of Vitality in Action, Rusty Stout, a below the knee amputee, skate on the ice with a World Champion and Olympic Ice Dancer, Shae Lynn Bourne was truly inspiring. He never complained or said he could not do something during the demonstrations. He was out on the ice the entire time with the biggest smile on his face. Whenever I begin to make excuses and say I cannot do something, I think of Rusty ice skating with his prosthetic leg and use it to push me forward. This internship not only gave me faith in myself and taught me to let go of all excuses but also renewed my faith in the community. When people can come together and help one another, amazing things can happen.

I have met so many wonderful people working with the Vitality in Action Foundation and have made many great memories. It makes me sad to say goodbye for now to all of these people but I know my time with Vitality is not over. I want to thank Anjali Arnold, Rusty Stout and Zachariah Falconer Stout for the opportunity to work for such a great foundation. I hope to be involved with this foundation in the future and can’t wait to see the amazing things that come from this foundation.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Trans-theoretical Moldel of Behavior Change: Presentation

Human behavior is at the center of global health challenges today.  Whether trying to decrease smoking, increase active lifestyles, or advocating more balanced diets, changing a few key behaviors holds more potential to improve overall human health and wellness than just about any treatment-based solution.  Consequently, it occupies a key place in public health - the core preoccupation fueling the growth of the entire sub-field of health education.

It's also key to what we do here at Vitality, where we examine the barriers that disable healthier behaviors and focus intensively on community and social solutions that transcend those barriers.

Behavior change campaigns - or in the case of youth, often negative behavior prevention campaigns - also happen to be at the center of my work with Peace Corps Moldova's Health Education Program.  Everything our program does, from classes to community initiatives, is essentially part of a broader strategy tackling the slow and difficult process of helping people to take control of their own health for the better.

Needless to say, I've spent a lot of time thinking about behavior change these past couple years, and hope to have some thoughts on the broader process of behavior change in a future post.  In the meantime, last month it was my pleasure to lead a 5 day In-Service Training on community-based behavior change campaigns for 33 Health Education Peace Corps Volunteers, Moldovan nurses, and community partners (social assistants and teachers).

Below is the presentation I gave on behavior change theory, primarily focused on the Trans-Theoretical/Stages of Change Model.  Contact me if you'd like to use; on the off-chance somebody is interested, slides are also available in Romanian.

Zachariah is currently serving as a Health Education Specialist with the U.S. Peace Corps in Moldova. This entry is cross posted at his personal blog, “Embarkations.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Marathon Motivation

Motivation and inspiration have proven to be two important components in my journey to training for a marathon. Journey has become the best word to describe my marathon training because it has been full of ups and downs, twists and turns and has given me insight into myself that I did not realize before. I have needed both inspiration and motivation to get me through each step on the journey, but sometimes they are the hardest things to find.

Inspiration and motivation can come from many different places. It can come from work, movies, music but for me it has come from those closest to me. Ever since I was much younger I have watched different members of my family run marathons. For many years, I watched my cousins and uncle run The Pikes Peak Marathon and the St. George Marathon. I would hear stories about all of the other races they had run across the country and how accomplished and amazing they felt after finishing each race. I was inspired by their strength and determination to cross the finish line of such a long and demanding race. I made a promise to myself that one day I too would run a marathon. I never imagined myself winning a marathon or even coming close to winning. What I envisioned is crossing the finish line after running the entire 26.2 miles and feeling that sense of pride in myself, that pride that I had seen in the faces of my cousins and uncle when I was younger.

When I was in high school I started running. I had always been very active playing sports and dancing, so running long distances was not a difficult thing to attempt. During the season of my senior year in high school I fractured my Tibia. I started noticing a lot of pain in my lower leg. Doctors told me that I had shin splints from all of my dancing, running and playing sports, but I would be fine as long as I did not push it too hard and rested it for a week. After a week of rest, I started back to all of my activities but was still in pain. It took many doctors visits, X-Rays, and MRIs to find the problem: a fractured tibia. It had started out as a small stress fracture that continued to get worse the more active I was. I had to be on crutches for three months during the winter of my senior year and in an air cast for another month after until it was finally healed. Unable to compete in any of my sports my senior year in high school and missed out on all of my dance and Pom competitions devastated me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Vitality Awards

Board of Directors Treasurer Bill Gugerty presenting Anjali Arnold one of two first ever Vitality Awards

Rusty Stout receiving the second of the first ever Vitality Awards from Bill Gugerty

Anjali and Rusty embrace while receiving their Vitality Awards as Vitality Ambassador Uschi Kessler and Adaptive Skating Coach Yvonne Dowlen applaud

The Vitality In Action Foundation’s first event, The Vitality Skating Fair at Apex Center on July 30 in Arvada, CO, was full of surprises and even tears of joy. The Fair, which was a demonstration of the techniques used in the adaptive ice skating program proved to be an extremely moving and emotional event for the audience and for everyone involved from Vitality In Action. The most surprising moment of the ice show for Rusty Stout and Anjali Arnold came at the end of the event. After putting together a truly inspirational and fun event and ice show, they were each presented with the first ever honorary Vitality Awards in the history of the Foundation.

Rusty Stout, the Founder and President of the Vitality In Action Foundation, received a plaque recognizing his “immense efforts and contributions without whom the ideas embodied by the organization would be mere hopes of individuals rather than the action of an organization.” Rusty was completely shocked and surprised by the award. He described his emotions saying, “We did what most people consider impossible with too few resources, people and money, but we are very pleased with the outcome.”

The Vitality In Action Foundation and the Vitality Fair embodies a lifetime of work for Rusty, without whom the organization would not touch the lives of so many in the community. With tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, Rusty recounts receiving the award as “extremely gratifying and the most precious award he has ever been given.” Rusty is a truly amazing and inspirational person for his strength and his vision for the future of the foundation and for the community. He teaches people how to take risks, so even if they fall down they are able to get back up again and continue living a vital life. Rusty is living proof that anything is possible and truly embodies the words printed on his honorary plaque.

Anjali Arnold, the Managing Director of the Adaptive Skating Programs, was also honored by the Board of Directors, which unanimously voted to name the Vitality Skating Program the Anjali Ability Academy. She was also recognized with a plaque commemorating her “immense efforts and contributions without whom the concepts of Vitality would remain mere ideas.” Anjali describes this moment as “a truly surreal experience because she was in complete shock.” The first thoughts that came to her mind upon hearing the news at the Vitality Fair were, “How ridiculous,” “how wonderful,” “but what are they thinking?”

After a having few days to regain her thoughts, Anjali was able to comment on her true feelings about the awards. “As it so happens,” she describes, “Anjali, in Sanskrit, means ‘offering’ and also means ‘receiving’. So by definition, my name represents the universal process of giving and taking, the continuous spontaneous natural flow that stems from the quintessential force of affinity that causes all effects in the universe. This is the way I teach, simultaneously, the way I learn. My name is who I am. My soul, for the first time in this incarnation, feels validated in ways that words cannot express.” Anjali helps people to recognize the everyday “miracles” that each person possesses within themselves. She has touched and changed so many lives by her amazing gifts and incredible heart. There is no one more deserving of these two awards than Anjali.

Needless to say, there was not a dry eye in the room after the Vitality Fair. Even now, looking back, Rusty and Anjali continue to re-live the powerful emotions they experienced that day from the Vitality Fair and from receiving their awards. There are no two people more deserving of the first Vitality Awards than Rusty Stout and Anjali Arnold. With them at the reigns, we look forward to many great things for our community and a very high bar for future Vitality Award honorees.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Reflections on Joining Vitality

Very few times in our lives are we truly inspired to do something greater, not only for ourselves but for others. I feel like this is the first time in my life that this has happened. I have been greatly affected and inspired by the Vitality In Action Foundation and the amazing people that work for the foundation. I know that I will forever be touched and changed by this organization.

It all began when I was working at a restaurant in Arvada. Working as a server at a restaurant, you meet all kinds of people on a daily basis. Sometimes, people come in to simply enjoy a great meal with family and friends, while others come and try to strike up a personal conversation. Anjali Arnold, the Managing Director of the Adaptive Ice Skating Program for Vitality In Action, came into the restaurant one night and changed my life.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thank You Remarks by Rusty at the Vitality Fair

We've been stunned at the incredible reception we received last Saturday at the first ever Vitality Fair.  We drew a crowd of over 150 and international skating talent, all in support of our Adaptive Ice Program.  After the program, Founder and President James (Rusty) Stout took to the mic to thank the community that came together in mutual support.  As our first large public event, it was a moment for both celebration and reflection.  As such, we thought it fitting to post Rusty's remarks from the evening.

Good evening Vital People! Thank you for joining the Party. We do hope you've had some fun. Mom always taught the two keys to community are Please and Thank you. So first, three Pleases:

PLEASE join Apex Park and Recreation District and the Vitality Community for Cheap Skate after the show. We'll have a good time and get to know each other a bit better. As you leave this evening, PLEASE take care so that you can PLEASE keep coming back to have some fun recreating – however you choose to participate!

And now it's time for the Thank You's – there are a lot more than three of those so please bear with me – it's an emotional time and I am a passionate guy.

Everyone here is participating in the launch of the world's first adaptive skating program aimed at mainstreaming elite ice skating. That's a really high bar for human achievement and we're doing it right now, right here, the right way – EVERYONE IS WELCOME and EVERYONE here has given their time, money, and talent to build this community, the necessary FIRST STEP on this particular journey. Everyone -- audience, cast, crew, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, all of us make up the Vitality Community. Folks, WE ARE VITALITY – THANK YOU! And Thank you Apex Park and Recreation District. You have graciously accepted Us into the Apex Community and given Vitality a home.