Friday, September 2, 2011

Significant Health Disparities for People with Disabilities - Change That Now!

This family attended our cycling program last week in Hadley
- a perfect example of taking on the fun of improving health!
Photo by Nancy Bazanchuk.

In the past few days I received this update from the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire:

Compared to racial and ethnic minority groups, people with disabilities are generally more likely to experience poorer health, according to a new report from the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (IOD). The report, “Health Disparities Chart Book on Disability and Racial and Ethnic Status in the United States,” examines the health status of working-age (18-64) people with disabilities, as reported to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the nation’s premier public health survey."

Among the key findings in the report:

  • If people with disabilities were a formally recognized minority group, at 19% of the population, they would be the largest minority group in the United States.
  • The highest proportion of people who say their health is fair or poor is found in people with disabilities (40%, compared to 23% of Hispanics, 22% of American Indian/Alaska Natives, 18% of blacks, and 8% of Asians). 
  • People with disabilities have the least desirable prevalence rates for 10 of the 14 selected health indicators including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
You can download the full report at IOD's website (link above). Just this much was enough for me to realize painfully (after 16 years of dedicated effort to improving adaptive recreation opportunities!) how important it still is for people with disabilities to find ways to improve their quality of life, get more exercise and enjoy the benefit of the outdoors. With this in mind, I recommend the following upcoming events:

CHANGE PEOPLE'S LIVES - September 23, Hynes Convention Center, Boston. At this day long conference and free expo you can experience the current state-of-the-art of inclusive products and technologies that transform the lives of people with disabilities and older people and enhance everyone's lives. Focus areas are Home, Work, Learning and Fitness/Recreation/Sport. Here is what I know about it: You can even find me there - with DCR's Universal Access Program in the exhibit area where we will have adaptive recreation equipment on display. This will be a great event for tapping into available resources and networking. I hear the Governor is coming! And it will be a GREAT TIME!

LIFE IS GOOD FESTIVAL - September 24 and 25, Prowse Farm, Canton, Massachusetts. This is a doubly beneficial event for kids of all ages! You go to have fun and at the same time your ticket raises money to help kids overcome trauma and life-threatening challenges by supporting Playmakers. There are musical performances by bands throughout the weekend and activities of all stripes including: Art for All Mural, dog show, BMX stunt show, instrument petting zoo, yoga, an endless variety of games, and more. Here's what I know about it: There is a team of doctors volunteering at the event to ensure that people with disabilities can participate in and enjoy the activities! On-line - check out the FAQ's about access for people with disabilities under "Event Info". Email if you have questions before you go. On site, ask for the "access program" at the Information Tent. And have a GREAT TIME!

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