10 Communities Showcased for Efforts to Include People with Disabilities in Healthy Community Activities

October 23, 2017
Allison Hoit


CONTACT: Paige Rohe, prohe@chronicdisease.org, 470-809-0589

ATLANTA (Oct. 23, 2017) –  The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, in partnership with the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability,  Lakeshore Foundation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Disability and Health Branch announce the “Promoting Activity and Inclusive Healthy Communities Series,” a collection of videos showcasing the work of 10 communities in five states to improve access to healthier lifestyle choices for people living with disabilities.

“Our federal partner, the CDC Disability and Health Branch of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities granted each participating community $22,800 to explore targeted interventions for increasing access and opportunity for physical activity, healthy eating, and general accessibility at the local level,” said Karma Harris, one of NACDD’s disability inclusion experts. “From hiking path signs for people with a visual impairment to adapted bikes in school systems, we were impressed with how participating communities leveraged their grants to improve inclusion in treasured community resources like parks, farmer’s markets, and playgrounds.”

“Lakeshore-NCHPAD believes all people have the right to access their community and lead active, healthy lifestyles,” says Lakeshore Foundation President Jeff Underwood. “We are proud to partner with NACDD and CDC to foster the growth of inclusive communities.”

CDC State Disability and Health programs applied to the Reaching People with Disabilities through Healthy Communities project, identifying two local communities to participate as part of their application. NACDD then selected five states: Iowa, Montana, New York, Ohio, and Oregon for the project. Some of the results of the 10 pilot communities included:


  • Carroll, County worked closely with a day and residential care provider for people with disabilities and a local gym to incorporate more physical activity opportunities into clients’ daily routines as well as offering no-cost, personal training sessions and fitness classes.
  • Sioux City worked with the local parks and recreation center to make a popular indoor climbing wall accessible.


  • Adams County purchased seven adapted bikes and changed school policies to enable approximately 734 children with disabilities to participate in biking with their peers and families through a bike-share program.
  • Marion launched a mobile pantry with staffing opportunities for people with disabilities to help address food insecurity for 100 families.


  • Corvallis developed a plan to improve the downtown’s infrastructure to make it more wheelchair accessible and more walking and biking friendly.
  • Pendleton’s resident inventor, Darrin Umbarger, created 10 wheelchair charging stations that have been installed in local parks and for the first time anywhere in the U.S., in a state capital – the Oregon Statehouse. Darin’s invention, with more installations planned (including in other states), is enabling people who use power wheelchairs to spend more time enjoying the outdoors and to become more involved with their local government.


  • Butte citizens, who are planning a new community pool, have incorporated zero-entry decks, wheelchair accessible pool lifts, stairs with handrails, and family changing rooms into the planning design to make the $7.2 million, bonded facility inclusive for all. An accessible playground next to the pool also is being planned.
  • Helena hosted workshops with the Healthy Communities Coalition to integrate inclusivity in walk audits and active living wayfinding activities. They now have trained inclusive walk audit facilitators who lead audits regularly with key leaders, community members, and decision-makers so that inclusion is permanently built into the process.

New York

  • Olean explored redesigning its main thoroughfare, North Union Street, beyond the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act to include new, fully inclusive crosswalks in four locations along the street for people with mobility, hearing, and visual impairments.
  • Syracuse revised its Monday Mile walking program to develop a new policy for making its walking routes inclusive for people with disabilities as well as in low income neighborhoods.

NACDD’s work on “Promoting Activity and Inclusive Healthy Communities,” supports a larger, global campaign, “Commit to Inclusion’s Partnership for Inclusive Health,” announced in May 2017. In partnership with the campaign’s founders, NACDD programming seeks to help implement “guidelines and programming to empower people with disability to lead healthy, active lifestyles.”

John Robitscher, NACDD’s CEO, acknowledges that work to include people with disabilities in healthy living activities is especially important for the chronic disease directors that his Association represents. “Chronic diseases do discriminate against people with disabilities. With nearly one in five Americans living with a disability, it is incumbent on public health officials to help ensure that everyone in our communities has the opportunity to lead a healthier, more productive life,” Robitscher said.

The “Promoting Activity and Inclusive Healthy Communities” collection of videos is now available on the NACDD website, chronicdisease.org, as well as on YouTube.


The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors

Since 1988, the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors and its more than 6,500 members have worked to strengthen state-based leadership and expertise for chronic disease prevention and control in all states, territories, and nationally. Learn more at chronicdisease.org.

Lakeshore Foundation and NCHPAD

Lakeshore Foundation’s activity, research and advocacy initiatives annually serve thousands of children and adults with physical disabilities and chronic health conditions. Lakeshore is home to the CDC-funded National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD). NCHPAD works to create health equity for people with disability by providing assistance in the form of web-based materials and health communication endeavors. For more information, visit www.lakeshore.org and www.nchpad.org.