Oregon: Charting New Paths to Health and Happiness

The Oregon Office on Disability and Health (OODH) embraces a holistic approach to health and well-being for people with disabilities, which promotes access to quality health care, employment, education, housing, recreation, meaningful relationships, and public and private services. OODH is currently working on two exciting projects: disseminating “Disability and Public Health” to schools of public health and developing an Hispanic version of its very successful Healthy Lifestyles workshops.

Disability and Public Health Curriculum for Schools of Public Health

A relatively recent study of disability and schools of public health found that, although many of the surveyed schools offered some coverage of matters related to disability, others provided no coverage and had no plans to do so.1 The study suggested gaps in important areas, such as classification and measurement of disability, independent living centers and the independent living philosophy, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and assistive technology and personal assistance.

To remedy those gaps, OODH is currently promoting “Disability and Public Health,” a curriculum for schools of public health. The course was first introduced in the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine in 2001. “It has been very well-received since then,” according to OODH project coordinator Mel Neri. OODH, in collaboration with the American Public Health Association, also plans to publish a textbook based on the course content in the fall of 2007.

The Disability and Public Health course curriculum sets out to increase students’ understanding of why and how to incorporate disabilities into public health. The curriculum is topically organized into nine modules, each of which includes key discussion points, a bibliography and supplemental readings. The appendices include a genric class syllabus and sample exam questions.

The nine modules include the following:

  1. Models and approaches to disability
  2. A brief history of public health
  3. Disability epidemiology
  4. U.S. government programs and services for people with disabilities
  5. A personal perspective on the history of disability
  6. Multicultural views of disability
  7. The contemporary experience of disability in America
  8. Health promotion and disability
  9. The role of public health professionals

OODH is currently disseminating a limited number of complimentary curriculums to schools of public health, as well as other interested organizations and academic institutions. To receive a complimentary copy of this curriculum, please contact Bethany Batsell before June 30, 2007, at batsellb@ohsu.edu or 503-494-3331.

Healthy Lifestyles for Latinos With Disabilities

Healthy Lifestyles (HL) is an evidence-based three-day, peer-facilitated workshop that helps people with disabilities develop the confidence and skills they need to lead healthier and happier lives. This spring, an HL workgroup comprised of OODH staff and HL facilitators revised and updated the HL curriculum. This most recent version of the curriculum is in part a response to the increasing number of requests for HL train-the-trainer events from within Oregon and from other states including Michigan, Utah and Virginia.

The HL workshops help participants meet their own individualized health goals. The focus is on self-defining a healthy lifestyle; identifying important values; addressing fitness, nutrition, illness prevention, stress and relationships; and developing personal health goals and plans for achieving them. During the workshop, participants do non-impact aerobics and yoga, and enjoy chair massage and healthy meals. Since 2001, OODH has been providing an average of four HL workshops a year: two in rural areas and two in the Portland metropolitan area.

To address the health needs of Latinos in Oregon — the fastest-growing minority group in the state — and build on the success of existing HL workshops, the Oregon Institute on Disability and Development (OIDD) and OODH are working with the Center for Persons with Disabilities (CPD) at Utah State University to develop a cultural adaptation and Spanish translation of the HL curriculum. “The CPD has the resources, skills and staff to do a really good job on this,” saidOODH health educator Angela Weaver.

Since 2005, the CPD has been working with focus groups of Latinos with disabilities to gain a better understanding of their health and wellness concerns and goals. Based on feedback from these Utah focus groups and CPD participation in an HL train-the-trainers event and workshop, as well as additional input from a Latino stakeholders meeting in Portland, the CPD has culturally adapted and linguistically translated the original HL curriculum and materials. Bicultural and bilingual staff of the CPD and their local Latino disability service providers are currently pilot-testing the workshops in Utah. Subsequent HL workshops for Latinos are planned for both the Oregon and Utah Offices on Disability and Health.
1“Disability and the Curriculum in US Graduate Schools of Public Health,” American Journal of Public Health, Volume 90(8), August 2000, pp 1315-1316. American Public Health Association, Inc.