The overall purpose of this project is to establish a regional academic-community partner network to identify community-based research priorities and develop a long-term collaborative agenda to reduce obesity risk and promote long-term health in school-age children with developmental disabilities (DD) such as autism and intellectual disabilities. The proposal is organized around the central theme that community support is essential in identifying, understanding, and targeting risk factors for obesity that may contribute to poorer health outcomes for children with DD. Through this partnership, we will heighten the community's awareness of state and local health disparities problems, and disseminate to the community relevant health promotion information based on current research findings and initiatives. While children with some DD, e.g. cerebral palsy, tend towards low weight, children with other DD diagnoses are at risk for overweight and obesity, and all are at risk for poor fitness levels and nutrition that are risk factors for obesity. In turn, the network will provide a vehicle through which the community will inform the partners of its research priorities. Through this initiative, the community's views will culminate in development of a community-based participatory research (CBPR) agenda for developing research projects on obesity in children with DD.
Specific aims i nclude building a strong working relationship and a set of research goals focused on community priorities in addressing and reducing health disparities;providing health education about the problems related to childhood obesity in a manner that is sensitive to the community's perceptions;reaching out to the community to identify members, areas of interest in addressing disparities in obesity;and implementing a Memorandum of Understanding between Temple University and one or more community organizations in the network for the purpose of developing a CBPR agenda on health disparities in obesity for this population. In the longer term, we anticipate that the network will build on this experience to form the core of an ongoing group of community members who continue to promote and implement an agenda for health and wellness projects for this under-served population. The two principal investigators are PIs on a recently-funded .Partners in Research. NIH Roadmap project to bridge the gap on research design between the community and the academy using CBPR principles. Through these grants, these two organizations are sharing information and perceptions of health promotion research for adults with DD. The current proposal will build on the existing funding by extending the principles we are piloting in the funded initiative to a regional network addressing a very important group whose needs are just beginning to be recognized, that is, school age children with DD.

Public Health Relevance

The purpose of this proposal is to establish a community-based participatory research network spearheaded by local organizations in south central Pennsylvania to decrease the risk of obesity and improve health and wellness of school-age children with developmental disabilities (DD) such as autism and intellectual disabilities. The effort will lead to a self-sustaining collaborative network dedicated to the goal of promoting good health through everyday living for this greatly under-served population. People with many DD have higher rates of obesity and lower fitness than those in the general population, and children with DD are at elevated risk.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Conference (R13)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1-DSR-M (92))
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White, Della
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Temple University
Physical Medicine & Rehab
Schools of Education
United States
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