One Step at a Time: NEP Lessons, Advisor Help Participant Move Forward

Heartbreak led to Carla Silvers’s retreat from the world. But one day, a chance meeting led to a new path. Thanks to the encouragement and creativity of NEP Advisor Chris Clark, Carla is now able to walk with confidence, has a better diet, and is more hopeful about the future.

Carla Silvers, 43, was depressed. She had lost her mother and suffered other personal setbacks. The Vincennes resident stopped leaving the house. Soon, Carla was reluctant to leave her room. Her strength waned.

The less she moved, the worse she felt, said her direct support personnel Rhonda, who asked for her last name not to be used.

“Before Chris, she had lost interest in moving,” Rhonda said. “But after Chris, everything changed. She started thinking about what she was eating and exercising.”

Carla is one of the 24,265 participants who benefitted from the programming provided by NEP during 2022. NEP Advisors typically accommodate their participants. However, there are several unique aspects of Carla’s six-month journey towards wellness. 

The first difference is how the two connected. Chris met Carla’s case manager, Marilla Cosme, in a local restaurant as the two were washing their hands. Marilla noticed Chris’ sandals. Chris noticed Marilla’s backpack.

“When I saw her backpack, my first thought was, “I wonder if she is a caseworker,” Chris said. “She just looked like a caseworker. Then the conversation switched to what we did. After I told her about what I did, she said she thought Carla could benefit from what I did.”

When the two women met, Chris and Carla warmed to each other immediately. Carla, who is selective about whom she allows into her home, welcomed Chris.

With Carla’s limited mobility but willingness to learn, Chris used the Eat Smart Live Strong series to help Carla learn a new way of eating. To build Carla’s strength, Chris modified exercises found in the Coordinated Approach to Child Health, or CATCH, curriculum.

Soon, the change in diet and the increase in activity resulted in significant changes. Carla began leaving her home to walk, Rhonda said. She went to the grocery store to help with the groceries. As she selected her groceries, she used her new-found knowledge to make wiser choices. She now reads labels all of the time, ” Rhonda said.

“I am glad there is something that is good for her mentally, physically, and spiritually,” said Marilla, who works for Unity of Indiana. “There are some people who would say that this is a coincidence. I would say this is divine.”

“She is just the sweetest person,” Chris said. “She just needed a little encouragement.”

But Carla was not the only one facing mobility challenges. Rhonda said she suffered for years with “floating ankles,” a condition that caused her to lose her balance, and arthritic knees. Following along with Carla and Chris, Rhonda said she, too, is seeing improvement.

Since Chris began working with her, Carla has purchased an air fryer and a blender. Now, there are fewer fried foods and more soups and smoothies. She prepares healthier recipes.

She has also developed the habit of exercising as she watches TV, works out using the incentives Chris has given her, and is now able to walk greater distances. Her next step is working out at a local gym.

“She is just doing so well,” Chris said. “I am so proud of her!