Health Empowerment Zones for People with Disabilities
James Rimmer, Ph.D.
The proposed longitudinal study uses a community-based participatory research (CBPR) model to improve access to the built environment for persons with mobility disabilities through a multilevel intervention involving partnerships between the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Illinois Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Project, the Chicago-based American Planning Association, and the Urban Transportation Planning Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The study will be conducted in two phases. The first phase will involve development of a health empowerment zone that includes training initiatives with fitness and recreation facilities, grocery stores, the regional transportation authority, and local planning and zoning boards. The intervention will consist of (1) disability awareness and accessibility training to fitness facility, grocery store and mass transit staff; (2) providing barrier removal recommendations to store and facility owners; (3) involvement with local planning boards to recommend strategies for improving community accessibility, and 4) a health marketing campaign that includes financial incentives in the form of pre-purchased goods and services for businesses that increase accessibility and increase community awareness of accessibility and health promotion for people with disabilities. Phase II involves a Ticket to Health Campaign that provides incentives for intervention participants to explore the modified built environment by providing them with vouchers for prepaid goods and services from stores and facilities within the health empowerment zone that have removed barriers. Treatment group participants will receive pre-paid tickets redeemable for goods and services from participating fitness facilities and food stores over a four month period. The tickets will be redeemable only by the participants and only for specific (e.g., health promoting) goods and services. Health behavior data will be recorded both pre and post intervention. The primary outcome of this demonstration project is a model program for improving access to the built environment resulting in improved health and reduction of secondary conditions among people with mobility disabilities.