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Camp PossAbilities

A Community-Academic Partnership to Address Health Disparities for People with Disability
Camp PossAbilities

A Community-Academic Partnership to Address Health Disparities for People with Disability

N Farr, J Sullivan, C Sullivan, G Segal, C McCrossan, C Koch, M Mele, J Nelson, M Gonzalez, J Walrath, A Cowan, L Pryor. L Farroni University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) – School of Medicine, Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program, Doctorate of Occupational Therapy Program, Christina Sullivan Foundation

The National Council on Disability concluded that, “the absence of professional training on disability competence issues for health care practitioners is one of the most significant barriers that prevent people from receiving appropriate and effective health care.”

(Source: The Current State of Health Care for People with Disabilities | NCD.gov. https://ncd.gov/publications/2009/Sept302009#Profess. Accessed October 2021)


  • People with disability are underrepresented when planning health professions education.
  • Major healthcare bodies call for improved training In the care of people with disability.
    (Source: Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education (2018). Core Competencies on Disability for Health Care Education. Peacock, NJ: Alliance for Disability in Health Care Education. http://www.adhce.org. Accessed October 2021)
  • People with disability are more than twice as likely to report finding health care provider skills inadequate and four times more likely to be treated badly.
    (Source: WHO | World report on disability (2011). WHO. http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report/en/. Accessed October 2021)
  • Inadequate knowledge and limited experience play a role in perpetuating health care inequities.


  • A partnership was formed between UTMB and the Christina Sullivan Foundation to:
    – Meet a community need for inclusive sports.
    – Provide an inter-professional practice experience for students.
  • PT, OT, and MD student “buddies” work in a team with a group of assigned athletes with disability in playing adaptive sports including tennis and bocce.
  • Deeper connections and understanding are achieved through team continuity and profiles of the likes, dislikes, and capabilities of each “buddy” and athlete.
  • Adaptive equipment to improve athlete engagement is fabricated by students and faculty.


  • A successful model for adaptive sports programing and learning has been implemented including Bocce and Tennis.
  • Student demand to participate exceeds capacity, currently participation is limited to 30 students for each 6-week session.
  • The student-participant experiences are rich and meaningful beyond anything achievable in a classroom.


  • The Foundation’s experience and leadership, combined with UTMB’s faculty expertise, and student passion has resulted in transformative experiences for “buddies” and athletes
  • This collaboration provides a natural inter-professional practice experience for students and faculty.
  • Closes an identified education gap and promotes long-term reduction in health inequities by providing students with knowledge and experience in working with people with disability.