An initiative of The N.C. Center for Health & Wellness at UNC Asheville

How to Become a Leader

What is a “Lay Leader”?

Many of the evidence based programs offered across North Carolina use a lay leader programming model.  This means that the leaders don’t have to be physicians, nurses, or physical therapists, they just need to be interested in helping people take control of their health.  The lay leader training provides an individual with everything they’ll need to lead a class through a given program. Individuals interested in becoming certified as a lay leader will lead in an evidence based class such as A Matter of Balance or one of the Chronic Disease Self Management Programs.

Who can become a Lay Leader?

Participants should be willing to lead classes in their community at regular intervals, with support from a Master Trainer and other healthy aging leaders.

What are the components?

Lay leader training varies by program.  Training sessions include in-depth discussions of the program content, activities, and quality assurance. You don’t need any previous teaching or healthcare experience but you must plan to attend the entire training in order to be certified.

Lay Leader Trainings

Leader Training Requirements

Each of the evidence-based community health programs we support have their own requirements for becoming a trained leader and offering the program with fidelity as outlined below. Healthy Aging NC supports leaders throughout their training, offers resources for implementation, and collects data to help guide quality improvement

An interest in serving participants in your community, including underserved adults, older adults, and adults with disabilities; Ability to work with a group of people, to include displaying good communication and listening skills and a non-judgmental approach; Ability to be a positive role model to others; Respect for participant confidentiality; Experience maintaining required paperwork, collaborating successfully, and overseeing group logistics.

  • Led by: 2 trained instructors
  • Group size: 12-16 participants
  • Program length: 2.5 hour session/week x 6 weeks
  • Leader training requirements: Attend an in-person 2-day training or online training through the Self Management Resource Center.
  • Other requirements: Teach one workshop within the first 12 months after training and 1 workshop per year to maintain certification as lay leader.
  • Contact: Natasha Vos, nvos@unca.edu
  • Led by: 2 trained coaches or 1 Master Trainer
  • Group size: 8-12 participants
  • Program length: 8-2 hour sessions, 2x/4 weeks or 1x/8 weeks.
  • Leader training requirements: Complete 8 hour coach training led by a Master Trainer.
  • Other requirements: Virtual implementation requires an additional 4-hour virtual coach training. 
  • Contact: Ellen Bailey, ebailey@unca.edu
  • Led by: 1-2 trained instructors
  • Group size: 6-18 participants
  • Program length: 20 – 1 hour sessions, 2x/10 weeks or 1x/20 weeks
  • Leader training requirements: Attend an in-person 2-day training or online/hybrid (15 hour) Tai Chi for Health Institute (TCHI) Instructor Training; CPR and First Aid certification
  • Other requirements: Maintain annual Tai Chi for Health Board Certification and complete TCA/FP recertification training every two years.
  • Contact: Ellen Bailey, ebailey@unca.edu
  • Led by: 1-2 trained leaders
  • Group size: 12-15 participants
  • Program length: 1 hour sessions, 3 times per week, for 6 weeks
  • Leader training requirements: CPR certification, completion of a 3 hour online training consisting of reading a leader guide, watching webinars, and taking a brief multiple choice test.
  • Other requirements: all participants must have a Walk with Ease guidebook
  • Contact: Nadia Z. Mazza, nmazza@unca.edu