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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Man in wheelchair with wife and daughter

Together, we can create inclusive communities where people with disabilities can be healthy and lead full, active lives. See how these 10 communities are doing it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its partners are working together to create opportunities for people with disabilities to join in activities that promote health within their communities.

In the United States and around the world, people with disabilities face negative stereotypes, difficulty communicating, and physical, social and other barriers that prevent them from learning, living, working, and playing in their communities. We can work together to make our communities places where all people can thrive.

In 2016, CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities provided funds to its partner, the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD), for a project entitled Reaching People with Disabilities through Healthy Communities. Through this project, 5 states and 10 local communities are working together to build healthy communities specifically designed to include people with disabilities. This project provides people with disabilities opportunities for healthy eating, physical activity, and community involvement. Here are some of the success stories:

See this video to learn more about the activities that are taking place in Sioux City.

An Inclusive Climbing Wall in Sioux City, Iowa

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits bias against people with disabilities and works to ensure that public accommodations, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, and doctors’ offices, are accessible. Yet facilities that meet the legal requirements for being accessible may fall short of inclusion, if their design cannot accommodate the full participation of people with disabilities. The Long Line Family Recreation Center in Sioux City, Iowa is an example of a facility that was changed to promote inclusion. The recreation center met ADA accessibility standards. However, the climbing wall was not designed for use by people with physical disabilities.

Resources provided to local groups as part of NACDD’s Reaching People with Disabilities through Healthy Communities project supported changes to the wall to make it useable by people with physical disabilities. The project team worked with the City of Sioux City and the Miracle League of Sioux City—a local nonprofit that provides recreational opportunities for children and adults with disabilities—to propose ideas and find the best approaches for improving the climbing wall. People with disabilities, family members, and other agencies came together to carry out the plan. The change has helped make the recreation center more inclusive of the 9,000 community members with disabilities.

See this video to learn about other activities taking place in Marion County.

Better Nutrition Opportunities for People with Disabilities in Marion County, Ohio

In Marion County, Ohio, 3 in 4 adults and about 5 in 6 children report eating fewer than the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. The 2015 Marion County Health Assessment [5.33 MB] showed that about 1 in 5 people were living in poverty, and 1 in 6 low-income families lived more than a mile from a grocery store. In addition, about one-third of people in the county had a disability, a population group that, compared to people without disabilities, had higher rates of obesity and long-standing diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Marion Public Health participated in NACDD’s Reaching People with Disabilities through Healthy Communities project by working with partners to launch a mobile food pantry.

The partners used community data and the USDA Food Access Research Map to establish distribution locations that would reach underserved and vulnerable populations. They also worked to make the pantry physically accessible to people with disabilities.

Marion County’s mobile food pantry helps to increase reliable access to healthy food and ensure that people with disabilities are part of a community-wide solution. Currently, the mobile food pantry in Marion County serves more than 100 families, including 25 individuals with disabilities.

CDC would like to thank these communities and our partner, NACDD, for sharing their stories with us. In addition, we want to thank the National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability for their collaboration and support of this project. Please visit CDC’s disability and health website to see other stories like these.

CDC Works to Improve the Health of People with Disabilities

CDC’s Disability and Health Branch promotes the health and full participation in society by people with disabilities across their lifespans. We provide funding and ongoing scientific support to two National Centers on Health Promotion for People with Disabilities that promote inclusion of people with disabilities in programs that promote health and prevent disease. These Centers also develop tools and resources for improving the quality of life for people living with mobility limitations (such as difficulty walking or climbing stairs) and intellectual disabilities (difficulty making decisions, concentrating, learning, or remembering). These two centers are the

CDC’s Disability and Health Branch also supports 19 state-based programs to further reduce differences in health between people with and without disabilities, prevent long-standing diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and increase the quality of life for people with disabilities. Learn more about the State Disability and Health Programs.