Stoplight Healthy Living

How can adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) make healthy choices if they have never had choices presented in a way they can understand? The Kansas Disability and Health Program created Stoplight Healthy Living to provide and reinforce health information about nutrition and physical activity through an easy-to-understand format in an enjoyable environment for group learning. 

What is Stoplight Healthy Living

Stoplight Healthy Living is a healthy living program that is fun to learn and easy to follow. It focuses on providing information about choosing healthy food and drinks and increasing physical activity to help adults with IDD be as healthy as they can be to do all the things they want to do. Foods are divided into three groups according to the colors of a stoplight, so participants with IDD can understand how to make better choices. 

A stoplight. Green means GO, Yellow means SLOW, and Red means WOAH.

  • GREEN foods ("anytime choices" or GO foods, such as apples, strawberries, or carrots) 
  • YELLOW foods ("sometimes choices" or SLOW foods, such as cereal, eggs, or corn)
  • RED foods ("rarely choices" or WOAH foods, such as candy, cookies, or soda pop) 



Sessions include a variety of activities, such as assembling a balanced meal, measuring healthy portion sizes, and choosing healthier foods at fast food restaurants. The program relays how important physical activity is to good health, and how everybody can learn fun ways to move their bodies. Each session includes an exercise segment and a healthy snack to demonstrate how healthy foods can be delicious. Participants also receive items such as t-shirts to acknowledge their involvement with the program and water bottles to encourage healthy habits. 

How is Stoplight Healthy Living delivered?  

The program is delivered in six weekly group sessions. Each session lasts 60-75 minutes and features information and activities to make eating well and exercising fun! Presently, plans are being made to deliver the program by other means due to COVID-19 and the need for social distancing. 

A placemat illustrating the principles of choosing food according to the stoplight method
Session 1: Introduction to Stoplight food groups

Participants are introduced to the GREEN, YELLOW, and RED food groups and the concept of choosing healthier foods more often in order to feel better. They engage in several activities around choosing a balanced meal and making choices based on the three food groups. 



People doing aerobics
Session 2: Get Moving! 

This session focuses on the importance of regular physical activity for good health. Participants learn about different types of exercise, and they exercise as a group to a videotaped aerobic routine. A discussion about the many ways to have fun while getting physical activity follows. 



the sugary drinks display
Session 3: Healthy Beverages and Healthy Snacking 

Participants learn about the amount of sugar in common drinks through a Sugary Drinks display and a guessing game. They also discuss a variety of healthy snacks that can replace those with a lot of sugar, salt, and fat. 



Handy portions diagram, illustrating the amount of space that servings of different foods should take up in your hand
Session 4: Healthy Meal Prep

This session provides a guide for using one's hands to measure healthy portions of various foods and experience in measuring portions of several foods. Participants also discuss ways to make common dishes healthier, such as by choosing more foods from the GREEN group. 



Young woman in the produce aisle
Session 5: Grocery Shopping for Health

This session focuses on shopping for healthy foods to help participants choose healthier foods at the purchase stage, whether they do their own grocery shopping or someone shops for them. Participants receive a color-coded shopping list to encourage healthy choices. 


Jeremy shows off his certificate
Session 6: Healthy Choices When Eating Out and Celebration! 

Using menus from several fast food restaurants, participants learn about choosi[ng healthier meals and then practice ordering those meals in a role play activity. The program ends with the awarding of certificates, snacks, and a party. 



Where has Stoplight Healthy Living been delivered? 

a map of kansas with green stars to indicate the program has been delivered in beloit, salina, mchpherson, abeline, wichita, leavenworth, topeka, and olathe
How can I get involved? 

The Kansas Disability and Health Program (DHP) is recruiting community organizations that serve people with IDD to partner with us to deliver Stoplight Healthy Living. The DHP trains staff from these organizations to facilitate the sessions and provides all program supplies at no charge. Organizations are asked to provide meeting space, recruit 6-8 participants, deliver sessions, and participate in weekly technical assistance calls. The estimated time commitment for preparation, session delivery, technical assistance calls, and paperwork is three hours per week for two staff members. 

Want to learn more? 

Contact Kim Bruns
Program Coordinator
Kansas Disability and Health Program
(785) 864-1561

COVID-19 Resources

We have compiled resources to help you stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Stoplight Resources