The Project

The goal of the Missouri Disability and Health Collaborative is to make public health fitness and nutrition strategies fully accessible for people with intellectual disability. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this project is a partnership between the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the UMKC Institute for Human Development.


People with ID have high rates of obesity and chronic disease. Yet they do not always have access to resources that could help them be active and eat a healthy diet. Programs in the community may not know how to welcome and include people with disabilities. Information may be hard to understand. People with ID and their families may not know what programs are available. The MDHC brings together people with disabilities, families, and community organizations to solve these problems and promote health for ALL community members.

How we’re helping

Local public health agencies in Missouri already use many successful evidence-based strategies to increase physical activity and healthy eating in their communities. This project helps public health staff understand and respond to the needs of people with disabilities. MDHC provides training, resources, and technical assistance to public health agencies on topics such as:

  • Understanding health disparities facing people with ID
  • Reaching out to help people with disabilities know about their programs
  • Creating accessible program materials
  • Communicating with people with disabilities
  • Partnering with disability organizations
  • Learning about Universal Design
  • Including people with disabilities and family members on boards and committees

MDHC also works with the Department of Health and Senior Services to ensure that new public health strategies used statewide will be inclusive and accessible from the start.

How we began: Identifying needs

In our first year, we conducted a needs assessment to find out how we can make public health strategies accessible for people with ID. We are using this data to guide our work over the four years of the project. The needs assessment had three parts:

Literature Review

We gathered research about what other states and communities have done to promote healthy lifestyles for people with disabilities.

Read the literature review

Focus Groups

We asked people with disabilities and their families to tell us what would make it easier to participate in community programs. We also asked public health professionals what they need to make their programs more inclusive.

Read what focus groups told us

Survey of Local Public Health Agencies

Public health agencies in Missouri took a Community Health Inclusion Index (CHII) survey to identify their strengths and weaknesses regarding inclusion.

Read Public Health Agency survey results