The newly funded project, Rural Community Living Development
(RCLD), is led by Rural Sociologist and Project Director Dr. Rayna Sage, and
Dr. Craig Ravesloot, Clinical Psychologist and Research Director for the
Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural).
The purpose of the Rural Community Living Development
project is to provide space and facilitate conversations among community
members to help them connect to resources and information they might not
otherwise have access to.
Using a combination of independent living philosophy, peer mentoring and community development approaches, research staff will work with Centers for Independent Living (CILs) to take collective action that leads to positive change for and with people with disabilities living in rural areas.
Harnessing the theme of this year’s conference, Project
Directors Dr. Rayna Sage and Lillie Greiman, Director of Knowledge Translation
Tracy Boehm Barrett, and Research Advisor Dr. Craig Ravesloot will give a
presentation titled, “Using Rural IL Power to Address the Needs of People with
Disabilities Living in Poverty.” In their presentation, they will discuss how
poverty affects Independent Living (IL), rural resources that Centers for
Independent Living (CILs) can leverage to help address poverty, and how
community development strategies can address poverty among people with
disabilities living in their community. Dr. Sage will also briefly describe a number
of new opportunities for CILs to get involved in RTC:Rural’s research and rural
community development projects to address local issues that affect IL services.
Approximately 10 million
people with disabilities receive paid personal assistance services (PAS) in the
United States. For many, these services are critical for social and community
participation. However, little is known about rural-urban differences in PAS
delivery and consumption, and how these services influence community
participation and health.
To address this lack of understanding, RTC:Rural is conducting research on PAS in rural America.
Rights & Resources, a Center for Independent Living in
Birmingham, Alabama, is using RTC:Rural’s Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit to
introduce and teach advocacy skills to youth with disabilities by conducting
workshops across Alabama. With assistance from a grant from the Alabama Council on
Developmental Disabilities, Disability Rights & Resources was
able to hire a Community Empowerment Specialist to organize the advocacy
“We learned about the toolkit from APRIL [the Association of
Programs for Rural Independent Living],” said Elizabeth Patton,
Program Coordinator at Disability Rights & Resources. “Using
improvisational skills seems like a fun and engaging way to build advocacy,
especially in youth,” she said. “Looking over this toolkit, it was really nice
to have everything we needed already summed up into one Facilitator Guide with
accompanying Power Point presentations.”
Cover of the APRIL Members Input Survey Summarized Results. To view or download the full results, follow the links in the post.
At this year’s APRIL conference (See: Another great APRIL conference in the books!), RTC:Rural asked APRIL members to share their thoughts and ideas about what work is most important for rural Independent Living and research. We want to make sure our research leads to relevant and useful solutions for rural people with disabilities, and to do so we make sure to gather input from stakeholders as we plan, carry out, and share the results of our work. Continue reading →
Curious about what goes into creating a program like Healthy Community Living? What actually happens when you get people from across the country working together to create workshops that will help people with disabilities set and reach personal goals, live healthy lives, and learn skills that support living independently?
Transportation, especially in rural areas, continues to be one of the main issues that people with disabilities deal with on a daily basis. To help address this barrier to community participation, RTC:Rural and the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) developed the Rural Transportation Voucher Program. This Toolkit was recently updated and can now be downloaded for free from the APRIL and RTC websites.
Email Lauren Smith (email@example.com) for a high-resolution PDF file of the flyer.
Toolkit for Operating a Rural Transportation Voucher Program. Updated 2017. Learn how to bring together community members and resources to create a transportation system for people with disabilities in rural areas.
Why try a voucher program?
Promotes cost-sharing among service agencies, riders, and transit providers
Riders can get rides when and where they want
Gives riders more choices in where they live and work
Emphasis on rider needs, not agency considerations
Healthy Community Living (HCL), RTC:Rural’s multi-media health promotion program to improve the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities, is excited to be moving into the piloting phase of curriculum development.
RTC:Rural co-director Dr. Tom Seekins was recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Public Health Association (APHA). The award “is presented to a person who, over the course of his or her career, has made a major contribution to the improvement of health and quality of life for people with disabilities through research, teaching, advocacy, or practice.”
To see a captioned video of Dr. Seekins’ acceptance speech, click on the embedded video below.
Dr. Seekins was also honored at the 2017 Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference in Spokane for his support, involvement, and contributions to the Rural Independent Living and Disability Rights Movement.
Dr. Tom Seekins (left) accepting his award at the APRIL 2017 conference from Dr. Glen White (right).
“Dr. Tom Seekins was one of the very first people I met when I began my work with APRIL. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He, along with Dr. Devva Kasnitz and Linda Gonzales wrote our Rural Transportation Demonstration grant through the Department of Education which allowed APRIL to finally hire staff, i.e. me!! Tom is such a genuine and gentle soul. His soft-spoken manner and kind face represent home to many of us. He is not only a steadfast supporter of APRIL but a trusted and respected voice and scholar in the Rural Independent Living field and for People with Disabilities as a whole. His dedicated life’s work has helped us all understand the distribution of people with disabilities throughout our country and our communities and also highlights the continuing struggles that people with disabilities in Rural America deal with in trying to access services. His contributions are invaluable.
Tom Seekins is the kind of person you would want around in a crisis. He has a calming effect and a grounding energy that is so valuable and rare. It has been my sincere honor to have worked with him for 17 years. I am a better, more thoughtful person because of it.”