Maple Grove nonprofit receives life enrichment award

Emma H., accepts the “Life Enrichment Award” on behalf of Maple Grove’s CHOICE, Incorporated. CHOICE is a nonprofit serving people with disabilities in the Twin Cities.

Maple Grove’s CHOICE, Inc., a nonprofit serving people with disabilities in the Twin Cities, received a Life Enrichment Award from the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation for its excellent work with SHAPE, an acronym for Supporting Healthy Active People Every day. The health and wellness effort has multiple elements, and a big emphasis on physical fitness.

“Having a good life involves connecting with the people around us and being involved in our community and activities outside of work,” said Mike Burke, president of Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation. “Nonprofit service providers are innovators when it comes to enriching the lives of the individuals with disabilities and they deserve more credit for their work.”

The Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation organization represents more than 100 such day programs across the state.

“Giving our participants the necessary resources to improve their health has allowed them to gain control of this area of their life,” said Erin Sommer, program director for CHOICE. “They are able to pursue these goals on their own terms.” 

SHAPE offers fitness and exercise, strength and balance, yoga, meditation, sensory integration and nutrition to program participants. The Eden-Prairie-based nonprofit recognized the many barriers to healthy lifestyles that people with disabilities encounter, things like cost, supervision and support, transportation, lack of control over eating choices, the need for adaptive equipment and a lack of knowledge about best health practices.

Some SHAPE participants have improved their physical health dramatically, improving their blood pressure, losing weight and building endurance to obtain full-time employment. “From significant weight loss to improved mobility, new friendships and connections in the community, SHAPE is positively impacting people’s lives,” Sommer said.

Burke said it’s important for service providers to honor the choices of people with disabilities, who often want to participate in meaningful activities and community routines along with their friends. Day programs help navigate community interactions for individuals and give them more options that they otherwise wouldn’t have, Burke explained. “It’s part of creating a holistic life pattern and having people become a part of many things outside of work.”

SHAPE employs certified fitness professionals, and its direct support professionals help with classes and workout sessions for individuals with disabilities. It operates both within its facilities and in the community. Sommer said there are plans in the works to reach out to assisted living facilities, school special-ed and residential programs to spread SHAPE’s influence and benefits.

Presentation of the Life Enrichment Award is scheduled for May 29. A member of the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation board of directors, will honor staff members and participants from CHOICE.

The nonprofit’s state association and award organizer, Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation, has a mission to advocate and support its nonprofit members in providing meaningful services to persons with disabilities and communities served. Members are committed to respect for each individual, a person-centered approach and expanding opportunities. More information is available at

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