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UIC News Tips
University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456, www.uic.edu/depts/paff

October 11, 2000 Contact: Jody Oesterreicher, (312) 996-8277, joest@uic.edu


The University of Illinois at Chicago will assess the nation's progress toward the goal of making fitness, leisure and recreational facilities available to disabled people under a $915,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

UIC researchers will use the most advanced methods and measurements to gauge the accessibility of a broad spectrum of facilities in urban, suburban and rural communities throughout the United States. Included in the study are parks, swimming pools, fitness centers, campsites, trails, golf courses, bowling alleys, tennis courts and playgrounds.

Most disabled people do not get the physical activity needed to confer health benefits and prevent conditions such as heart disease, obesity and osteoporosis associated with a sedentary lifestyle, said James Rimmer, associate professor of human development and disability and principal investigator on the grant.

"Most fitness and recreational facilities are inaccessible to people with disabilities, preventing these individuals from benefiting from high quality and effective programs that would improve their health," Rimmer said.

Studies by researchers in UIC's department of disability and human development and at other institutions have found that many fitness and recreation programs not only are physically inaccessible to people with disabilities but also are staffed by people who are unprepared to support this population or who may hold negative attitudes toward people with disabilities.

The new project will assess all barriers to access to a facility, including preparation and attitude of staff, transportation, architectural features, and policies, such as adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The department of disability and human development in the UIC College of Health and Human Development Sciences has resources and networks developed by UIC researchers involved in related projects, including:

  • The Center on Health Promotion Research for Persons with Disabilities, a multidisciplinary center conducting research on reduction of secondary conditions among persons having the primary disabilities of arthritis, diabetes, stroke and Down syndrome. The research includes an intervention component consisting of exercise sessions, nutritional training, cooking instruction, weight management, stress reduction, substance abuse counseling and peer support.
  • The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability, funded by the CDC's disability and health branch. The center provides information on physical activity and disability to consumers, health practitioners and researchers.
  • The Great Lakes Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center, a regional center funded by the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. This model center helps implement the Americans with Disabilities Act by providing training and assistance to employers in the public and private sectors and to people with disabilities.

- UIC -


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