Representatives from NASA visited The Resource Center recently to teach individuals with disabilities what it takes to be an astronaut through the "Train Like An Astronaut" program, designed to get people exercising and eating right.
The event, held at The Resource Center's Michael J. Raymond Center on Jones and Gifford Avenue in Jamestown, consisted of a short slideshow presentation, followed by training games. The Resource Center's service recipients and staff learned what it is like to live in space and answered questions about NASA, famous astronauts and space exploration. Laurie Abadie and Kathy Reeves of NASA have been traveling around the country to teach people about what it takes to be an astronaut and the importance of daily exercise and good nutrition in an astronaut's routine.
At The Resource Center, attendees learned about what NASA does, what the engineers and astronauts do at NASA, and what NASA will be working on next. The audience also heard about astronauts' daily routines when they are in space, including what special foods they eat, how they shower and sleep, and even how they go to the bathroom.
TRC’s Vicky Bardo tests Mary Ford’s hand-eye coordination. In the background are Tim Hudson and Renee Summerson.
Ms. Abadie, a Southwestern High School graduate, and Ms. Reeves concluded the presentation by telling the participants that exercise is an important part of an astronaut's preparation and routine while living in the space station. To wrap up the presentation, Ms. Abadie explained to the group what it takes to be an astronaut: "A lot of exercise. They have to stay in good shape. They gotta eat healthy ... you've gotta want to explore."
The presenters had three activities set up for the audience to do: "Mission Control" for balance training; "Agility Astro Course" for agility training; and "Speed of Light" for hand-eye coordination training. They explained how to do each activity, then broke the audience into groups to do the games.
For the balance training, led by Ms. Reeves, participants had to stand on one foot and try to throw a ball. The person catching the ball then would throw it to someone else. Many TRC service recipients and staff members enjoyed tossing the ball back and forth while trying to maintain their balance.
The agility training, led by Ms. Abadie, taught people how to maneuver around objects through a miniature obstacle course. Participants had to follow the arrows around turns and cones to try to walk to the finish line. Even those who could not walk around the course were able to join in with the help of staff and friends. Those who were watching cheered on the others as they made their way around the cones to the finish line.
The last activity was hand-eye coordination training, in which people had to catch a ruler and measure their quickness by looking at where their hand was on the ruler when they caught it. A chart was provided to help them find how quickly they caught the ruler by converting inches into seconds. TRC's Victoria Trass Bardo, who arranged the NASA presentation, led this group and helped the people catch the ruler as quickly as they could.
Staff and service recipients enjoyed the NASA presentation on how to train like an astronaut, as they listened to and learned from Ms. Abadie and Ms. Reeves and cheered on their peers throughout the astronaut training activities.
TRC officials were grateful to have Ms. Abadie and Ms. Reeves come to the agency to work with people with disabilities and their support staff, and the two organizations are discussing additional collaborations.
"We are so excited that our connection and relationship with NASA may one day lead us to working with them on future projects on a national level," Ms. Bardo said. "We thank the wonderful NASA representatives for taking the time to share their program with us."