2012-09 Issue: NCHPAD with an “H” for Health and a New Home!

NCHPAD with an “H” for Health and a New Home!

Dr. Jim Rimmer

Welcome to the newly rebooted, refurbished and re-energized National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD)! Our 13-year-old Center recently added a new letter to its name and headed south!  The calling was much too great to overlook or ignore -- the opportunity for the Center to move to the next level and position itself at the intersection of a prestigious university and outstanding health and fitness facility that serves more than 4,000 people with disabilities and chronic health conditions. So we packed up the truck and headed south on I-65 for Birmingham, Alabama.

The decision to move to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and Lakeshore Foundation was not an easy one. We left a wonderful city and university where the Center was born, raised, and nurtured.  When I began my sabbatical in 1995 and started working with my colleague and dear friend, Dr. David Braddock, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, he challenged me to build an identity around disability and physical activity.  In 1997 he hired me as a faculty member in what would be the first Department of Disability and Human Development in the nation. His successor, Tamar Heller, continued to provide strong support for the Center and this, combined with the many wonderful staff and students who worked in NCHPAD, made it into a national and international hub for information and resources on physical activity and disability. 

But it took more than just a whim to even consider leaving the Windy City.  On the other end were two leaders who began a dialogue about making Birmingham, Alabama the epicenter for physical activity and disability research.  Jeff Underwood, President of Lakeshore Foundation, and Harold Jones, Dean of the School of Health Professions at UAB, decided -- with strong backing from their boards and staff/faculty – that a researcher and core staff were needed to fill the gaps in this understudied area of science.  The visionary behind all of it was Mike Stephens, someone who understood from both a personal and professional perspective the importance of sport and exercise in optimizing health, wellness and quality of life.  

And so began the nation’s first research-to-practice collaborative in physical activity and disability.  The incredibly talented staff at Lakeshore Foundation combined with a strong core of researchers at UAB in exercise science, medicine, nutrition, obesity who understand every aspect of physical activity and disability, and an institution committed to building a science around physical activity and disability.   Lakeshore’s universally designed exercise facilities include a state-of-the-art aquatics center with two, zero-depth-entry pools; a field house with three hardwood courts and a 200-meter track; a 10-lane marksmanship range; and a 6,000 square foot fitness center. The campus is also home to HealthSouth Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital, which provides an excellent framework for understanding the impact of a newly acquired disability or injury on the capacity to engage in physical activity post-rehab.  UAB hosts the Center for Exercise Medicine and the nationally acclaimed Nutrition Obesity Research Center, both of which will serve as platforms for building an inclusion science that addresses the needs of people with disabilities. 

NCHPAD with an H is now poised to serve as the nation’s premier center in promoting the health and wellness of people with disabilities.  The additional letter in our name represents an expansion of work in nutrition, obesity, and weight management. The good news is that it’s pronounced the same way – NIC-PAD –  with a silent h!  We welcome you back to the Center and look forward to working with all of you in our new home at Lakeshore Foundation and UAB. 

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