Celebrating 25 years: NCHPAD recognizes milestone achievements in adaptive health promotion

The NCHPAD has had a nationwide impact promoting the health, wellness and inclusion of people with disabilities into all areas of life.
Written by: Matt Gorum
Media Contact: Adam Pope

NCHPAD25YearsThe National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has now marked 25 years of pioneering inclusive health promotion and wellness programs for people with disabilities.

“Inclusion in health promotion is a fundamental human right, much like the impact of curb cuts, ramps and accessible bathrooms decades ago,” said Jim Rimmer, Ph.D., NCHPAD director and inaugural Lakeshore Foundation Endowed Chair in Health Promotion and Rehabilitation Sciences at UAB. “Our 25 years of work with and for people with disabilities have set the bar for a more accessible and inclusive society.”

Starting in 1999 as the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability at the University of Illinois at Chicago, its mission was to enhance access to physical activity for individuals with disabilities. By 2012, it had broadened its focus to overall health, becoming NCHPAD. Moving to UAB and adding “Health” to its name has been pivotal in its growth as the national leader in promoting the wellness of people with disabilities.

Paralympian Bob Lujano, who joined NCHPAD after the move to Birmingham, is proud to continue its legacy.

“As an expert inclusion specialist, I’m honored to work for NCHPAD, paving the way for disability service and inclusion,” Lujano said.

In Birmingham, the NCHPAD pioneered several initiatives to promote health and wellness among the disability community, including the revolutionary online program “NCHPAD 14 Weeks to a Healthier You” and a collaboration with the American College of Sports Medicine to introduce the Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer training program.

With a YouTube channel boasting over 30,000 subscribers, NCHPAD shares valuable content that empowers people with disabilities and stakeholders. The organization has expanded its video content to include adapted sports, community inclusion guides, cooking demonstrations and more, demonstrating a commitment to serving people of all ages and backgrounds.

Late 2022 saw the launch of NCHPAD Connect, an online portal providing comprehensive health promotion programs and personalized resources for people with disabilities.

NCHPAD’s success is built on collaboration with national health care partners, empowering providers with disability education to reduce medical ableism and increase access to care.

“A tribute to all NCHPAD staff who have been with us from 1999 to now,” Rimmer said. “It’s been a joyful 25 years addressing the tremendous need for inclusion and acceptance in our society.”