Living Well with a Disability



To help participants with disabilities and chronic conditions to establish meaningful goals for their lives and emphasize their attainment of good health as a means of helping to carry out those goals.

Disability and Health Program

Objectives of the Program

  1. Provide participants with disabilities and chronic conditions information strategies for developing personal goals.
  2. Provide participants with disabilities and chronic conditions information on how to improve their emotional and physical health.
  3. Provide participants with disabilities and chronic conditions a source of social support from their peers as they work to achieve their personal goals and health to reach these goals.

The Living Well with a Disability Program is designed to help you strengthen the skills you already have so that you can live well. The workshop itself includes eight, two hour sessions that introduce a process for setting and clarifying goals, as well as teaching skills for generating, implementing, and monitoring solutions. Goal setting and problem solving is taught with high importance, and become the framework for developing a healthy lifestyle.

Winning Race with a Disability

Skills are taught in:

  • Preventing health problems
  • Keepings health problems under control
  • Physical conditioning or fitness
  • Developing and maintaining healthy relationships
  • Beating the blues
  • Information seeking and systems advocacy
  • Goal Setting
  • Making healthy lifestyle changes

The workshop highlights the importance of health as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. When people make the effort to increase health behaviors, they enjoy not only improved physical health, but also an increase in overall life satisfaction. In this workshop, increasing one's ability to participate in meaningful activities leads to motivation for adopting health behaviors.

Living well can be defined as developing healthy life habits and doing things that you enjoy. Most people in society struggle with this concept, which includes: building a healthy lifestyle, eating a balanced diet, introducing and maintaining exercise, having a stress-reducing activity you enjoy, and preventing health problems.

The healthier that you are, the more able you are to do the things that you want in your life. If you prevent health problems, are in a good physical condition, have good relationships with people, and rarely feel depressed, happiness and living well will naturally follow.

Living Well Tree

In 2003, the Centers for Disease Control reported that physical activity can improve stamina and muscle strengths in people with chronic disabling conditions and has several known benefits including reduction of functional limitations and activity restriction, preventing secondary conditions, and improving social participation and quality of life.

The Living Well with a Disability (LWWD) program was co-developed by the University of Montana and the University of Kansas. The tree of life that represents LWWD suggests the healthful lifestyle and outcomes that can occur from participating in the Living Well with a Disability program.

The main focus of this program is to reduce the occurrence of secondary conditions for people with physical disabilities or a chronic illness. Secondary conditions occur when a person with a disability develops a complication related to his or her impairment. Secondary conditions can include psychological as well as physical limitations, such as depression and pressure sores.

The Living Well with a Disability program has shown that consumers who participated in it experienced a 37% reduction in disability from secondary conditions, six months after the workshop. Also, 45% of these same consumers reported a decrease in visits to their physician during that same time period.

Living Well participation is associated with a 10% decline in costs for medical services and has a statistically significant reduction in the prevalence and/or severity of secondary conditions and depression.

The Living Well with a Disability Program can be a very useful tool in helping CILs achieve RSA positive outcomes in consumer health promotion.

If you are interested in the Living Well with a Disability Workshop Training contact:

Reasearch and Training Center on Independent Living

Martha Hodgesmith, Associate Director
Research and Training Center on Independent Living
University of Kansas
1000 Sunnyside Ave., Room 4089 Dole Center
Lawrence, KS 66045

P: 785-864-4095       TTY:785-864-0706       E:

Information received from the following sources: