November 28, 2017

Healthy Community Living now in pilot phase

Healthy Community Living logoHealthy 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 researchers work closely with experienced CIL staff, peer experts in independent living philosophy, and staff from the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) to develop, test, and refine the HCL curriculums. To learn more about the role of the Development Team and the Participatory Curriculum Development process we used to create the HCL curricula, check out “Consumer interviews add to Participatory Curriculum Development project.”

Development Team

We want to acknowledge the tremendous work and collaboration of our Development Team:

  • Pamala Mondragon and Jamie Hardt from Independence, Inc. in Minot, North Dakota
  • Rich Skerbitz and Liz Amys from North Country Independent Living in Superior, Wisconsin
  • Dustin Gibson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Brittany Hepler from the Dale McIntosh Center in Anaheim, California
  • Kimberly Heymann from Alliance of People with disAbilities in Seattle, Washington
  • Ken Mitchell, Kim Gibson, and William Daniels from disAbility Link in Tucker, Georgia
  • Dori Tempio from Able South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina
  • Sharon Washington and Christine Cook from Blue Water Center for Independent Living in Port Huron, Michigan

Thank you Development Team, it’s been wonderful to work with you all and we so appreciate all of your time and energy devoted to HCL.

The HCL Development Team and RTC:Rural staff.

The HCL Development Team and RTC:Rural staff at a HCL training in Missoula, Montana.

Pilot Team

As we move into the piloting phase of HCL, we look forward to working with our new Pilot Team partners:

  • Gwen Brown, Josh Whitmire, Elizabeth Patton, and Dan Kessler from Disability Rights & Resources in Birmingham, Alabama
  • Chanell Calhoun, Rob Weigel, and Jacob Schuller from Southeastern Minnesota Center for Independent Living in Rochester, Minnesota
  • Stacey Zimmerman, Leanne Murrillo, and Darrel Christianson from Ability 360 in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Carole Tonks and Luke Koppisch from Alliance Center for Independence in Edison, New Jersey
A group of 9 people who are part of the HCL Pilot Team.

Members of the HCL Pilot Team and RTC:Rural staff at the APRIL 2017 training.


At APRIL’s annual conference this year, we held a two-day training for our Pilot Team.

“It was clear very early into the training that we have fantastic partners who will continue to help carry the success of this project with their expertise in independent living training and direct service,” said Tracy Boehm Barrett, RTC:Rural Director of Knowledge Translation. “They have incredible enthusiasm for being part of a project intended to make more evidence-based materials available for use in community settings. We are fortunate to have such great stakeholders in the CIL network and look forward to learning from them and the consumers they recruit to participate in the pilot.”

“Thank you for a wonderful training program for the pilot,” said Leanne Murrillo, one of the Pilot Team partners who participated in the training at APRIL. “I am looking forward to working with consumers on the curriculum.” “I’m excited and looking forward to the pilot program,” said Stacey Zimmerman, who also took part in the training at APRIL.

“I have started the review part of the sessions,” said Gwen Brown. “PERFECT timing! I have been working on a mindset change for myself health-wise. The sessions will cause me to lead by example and participants should be able to see a change in me personally. I am inspired already.”

Our Pilot Team partners are currently recruiting consumers for the pilot test of the curricula. As they go through the 12 week-long HCL curriculum, the consumers will take a daily survey on an electronic device. These surveys will ask them about things like their daily habits, activities, and any barriers they might be facing. The questions will change each week based on what chapter of the curricula they are currently working on. These survey results, in addition to feedback from the Pilot Team facilitators, will help us further refine the HCL curricula.

Real People. Real Places.

An integral part of the HCL project is our multi-media content production. There are not many photos, videos, or other media that accurately represent people with disabilities in real-life settings. To change this, HCL created a Flickr page, and has asked people around the country to share content to be used in the curricula. The goal with the Flickr page is to create a repository of media that represents real people in real places as a resource for all. We invite anyone who is interested to join the Flickr page, share photos, and use the photos for their own projects.

For more information, visit the Healthy Community Living website.

Follow HCL on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube, or email us at

Healthy Community Living logo