RTC:Rural travels to Grand Rapids for 25th annual APRIL conference

October 21, 2019


RTC:Rural heads to Grand Rapids, Michigan this week for the 25th annual Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference. The conference will be October 25 – 28, and the theme is “The Power of Rural.” 

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.

Greiman will also be presenting with Project Coordinator Kelsey Shinnick Goddard from the University of Kansas on their work with the Improving Home Usability project, which is part of the Research and Training Center on Promoting Interventions for Community Living (RRTC/PICL). This project is working to build local networks of housing and community resources so that CILs can better help people with disabilities address usability issues within their homes. In their presentation, Goddard and Greiman will explore the diversity of perspectives on IL, and share what they have heard from young adults living in the community. They will also share and ask for feedback on one of the tools developed for their project, a checklist to assist young adults in the transition to living independently.

We have a long-standing partnership with APRIL, and are looking forward to coming together to continue to support people with disabilities so they can participate in their rural communities. This year, we are excited to collaborate with two of our CIL friends and colleagues, Leanne Murillo from Ability360 in Arizona, and Luke Koppisch from the Alliance Center for Independence in New Jersey, to present on our Healthy Community Living (HCL) Program. Both Murillo and Koppisch have been integral partners in the development and evaluation of HCL. These two experienced IL facilitator partners will lead conference attendees through an interactive sample workshop session from the HCL, sharing an introduction to the brand new Community Living Skills curriculum. Several RTC:Rural staff and members of the HCL project team will be available at the conference to help attendees learn more about HCL and how they can try it out at their CIL.

In addition to these presentations, RTC:Rural will have a vendor table during the conference. We will be sharing information including national and state maps from our Disability in America Map Series, our Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit, and copies of some of our newest factsheets: ACA and Medicaid Expansion Associated with Increased Insurance Coverage for Rural Americans with Disabilities, and Employment Disparity Grows for Rural Americans with Disability. We’ll also have a sneak-peek at our newest toolkit, the Community Assessment for Accessible Rural Events (CAARE). Learn about the toolkit, and provide some feedback on some of the toolkit materials.

If you’re in Grand Rapids, be sure to stop by, say hi, and join our conversation about how research can support rural community living!