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Pamela Block, PhD
Co-Principal Investigator

Sarah Everhart Skeels, MPH
Co-Principal Investigator

James H. Rimmer, PhD
Co-Principal Investigator

Chris Keys, PhD
Senior Consultant

Erin Bean, CTRS
Data Collector, Activities Facilitator

Jennifer Catrambone, CTRS
Activities Facilitator

Kristy Hart, BSPT
Physical Therapist, Activities Facilitator

Paul Choquette, MA

Matt Sullivan
Data Collector, Case Coordinator

Elizabeth Vanner, MS

Francis Sparadeo, PhD
Workshop Facilitator

Student volunteers

Pamela Block, PhD
Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Block is a Associate Professor in the Occupational Therapy Program, School of Health Technology and Management, Stony Brook University. She served as Co-PI of a multi-year study funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) entitled "Project Shake It Up! Health Promotion and Capacity Building for persons with Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury and other Neuromuscular Disabilities," (2002-2005). Dr. Block received her PhD in cultural anthropology from Duke University in 1997. Her dissertation "Biology, Culture and Cognitive Disability: Twentieth Century Professional Discourse in Brazil and the United States" addressed the influence of cultural beliefs and professional theories on disability policy and treatment.

She has studied multiple marginalization and the intersections of gender, race, poverty, and disability. She currently studies capacity building and health promotion for people with disabilities through participatory intervention research with community non-profit organizations. Current research involves peer mentoring and overcoming barriers to physical and recreational activity for children and adults with Multiple Sclerosis. Recent publications discuss teaching disability studies in community health and rehabilitation programs.

 View/download Dr. Block's CV in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format.

 

Sarah Everhart Skeels, MPH
Co-Principal Investigator

Sarah Everhart Skeels has an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Physiology from the University of Virginia (1989), and a Master's Degree in Public Health from the George Washington University, where she concentrated in Health Promotion/Disease Prevention and Disability. She became a T5 complete paraplegic in 1990 when she was involved in a collision with a car while riding a bicycle. Since that time, Sarah has dedicated her professional and personal life toward promoting health, wellness and independence for people with disabilities, with a focus on neurological disabilities.

Currently, Sarah serves as a consultant to the Disability and Health Program, RI Department of Health and the PARI Center for Independent Living, where she is responsible for developing and implementing health promotion programs for adults and teens with physical disabilities. She is also a Co-Instructor for a course titled "From Pathology To Power: Disability, Community and Health" offered through the Department of Community Health at Brown University. She is also Adjunct Faculty of the Physical Therapy Assistant program at the Community College of Rhode Island, and guest lectures on disability issues at Assumption College and the University of Rhode Island.

Sarah helped Dr. Block with the development of the Shake It Up project, and eventually became the Project Director and Co-Principal Investigator. Additionally, she helped develop, implement and facilitate the Educational and Recreational seminars.

Sarah believes in practicing what she preaches and tries to lead an active lifestyle. She is a volunteer ski instructor at the White Mountain Adaptive Snowsports School at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire, and has taught people with disabilities how to sail. She sails competitively, sea kayaks, handcycles, and enjoys any and all outdoor recreation.

James Rimmer, PhD
Co-Principal Investigator

Jim Rimmer is a Professor in the Department of Disability and Human Development and Adjunct Professor in Movement Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He also is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Northwestern University, which is affiliated with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

For the past 25 years, Dr. Rimmer has been developing and directing health promotion programs for people with disabilities. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on various topics related to physical activity, health promotion, secondary conditions and disability. He is director of two federally funded centers, the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (www.ncpad.org), and the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Recreational Technologies and Exercise Physiology Benefiting People with Disabilities (www.rercrectech.org).

Dr. Rimmer is currently completing a CDC-funded randomized controlled trial titled, "A Physician-Referred Community-Based Approach to Increasing Awareness and Sustainability of Physical Activity for Overweight Adults with Mobility Limitations." He is a Healthy People 2010 Panel Member and was involved in the development of the Chapter 6 Workplan, Disability and Secondary Conditions.

Jim serves on several national committees including the Scientific and Medical Advisory Board for Life Fitness Academy, and the Health Disparities Advisory Committee to the Director of CDC.

Chris Keys, PhD
Senior Consultant

Dr. Christopher Keys is Full Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at DePaul University and Professor Emeritus of Psychology and of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Recently, he has co-edited People with Disabilities: Empowerment and Community Action and Participatory Community Research: Theory and Method in Action.

Professor Keys is a community psychologist and his current research and interventions focus on the empowerment of people with disabilities and their families, the promotion of success in education and in life by youth and young adults with disabilities, and attitudes toward people with intellectual disabilities and disability rights. He is also conducting intervention research concerning the development of the program evaluation capacity of organizations that serve people of color with disabilities. He is particularly interested in the intersections of disability, ethnicity and social class.

A Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Community Research and Action, Dr. Keys was one of the first to serve as President of the Society for Community Research and Action and as Chair of the Council of Community Psychology Program Directors. His work has been recognized by awards, appointments and honors from the American Psychological Association, The World Bank, the American Institutes of Architects, and the National Government of Australia. He has been invited to present his research in Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America. He has held visiting faculty appointments at the University of Oregon, Macquarie University in Australia and Shandong University in China.

Erin Bean, CTRS
Data Collector, Activities Facilitator

Erin has over six years of experience with implementing and managing sports, recreation and leisure programs specifically designed for adults and adolescents with physical disabilities.

For 5 years Erin was the Director of Recreation for summer programs at Shake-A-Leg in Newport, RI.

Erin collaborated on a 3-year health promotion research project with Brown University and PARI Independent Living Center, where she composed the curriculum, implemented adaptive sport, strength and conditioning programs for adults with physical disabilities and assisted in the research for the Project.

Erin is an AFAA and FRA Certified Personal Trainer and a Johnny G. Spinning Instructor at East Bay Fitness in Warren, RI. She teaches group cycling and provides one-on-one personal training where she helps individuals achieve their fitness goals.

Erin's volunteer activities have included work at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, where she provided one-on-one client therapy with the Aquatics Specialist, educated patients on the use of adaptive equipment during sports clinics and assisted the Rolling Thunder quadriplegic rugby team during their 1997 season.

Erin is recognized by the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS).

Jennifer Catrambone, CTRS
Activities Facilitator

Jenny worked for Shake-A-Leg as a recreation therapist and sports and recreation coordinator for three summers. Shake-A-Leg's program caters primarily to people with a spinal cord injury. Jenny has helped develop assessment tools that enable individuals to identify and pursue their recreation goals. While at Shake-A-Leg, Jenny orchestrated many adapted recreation modules including sailing, handcycling, kayaking, tennis, kite flying, SCUBA diving, and various wheelchair court sports.

Jenny was a volunteer with the adapted ski program at BOEC for two seasons, assisting in both stand up and sit down ski lessons for people with varying disabilities. She continued with BOEC as a summer intern for their wilderness program. She gained valuable experience on an accessible climbing wall and a wheelchair accessible high ropes course.

Jenny also puts time into pursuing her own recreational activities. While working and traveling internationally, she has developed skills in ropes course facilitation and maintenance, SCUBA diving, kayaking and leading groups in team building activities and group games.

Jenny leads a lifestyle filled with recreation and fun. Her belief is that participation in recreational activities is the key to a healthy mind, body and spirit. She strives to encourage others in their recreational pursuits.

Jenny is currently certified by the NCTRC as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) and is a member of ATRA, the American Therapeutic Recreation Association.

Kristy Hart, BSPT
Physical Therapist, Activities Facilitator

Kristy Hart works as a Home Care physical therapist for the Visiting Nurse Association in Burlington, Vermont. She is also pursuing a graduate level degree in Business Administration at the University of Vermont. Kristy received her Bachelors of Science in Physical Therapy at the University of Vermont in 1999.

After a summer working at the Shake-A-Leg Body Awareness Therapy program in 1999, Kristy completed a six-month internship at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center teaching people with disabilities how to ski. Upon returning to Rhode Island she worked as the Program Director of Shake-A-Leg's Body Awareness Therapy Programs and Confidence is Cool camps from 2000-2004. In January 2004 she returned to her native Vermont to begin her graduate work, where she anticipates receiving her MBA in May 2006.

Kristy is dedicated to alternative rehabilitation as shown through her work at Shake-A -Leg, past work as an adaptive ski instructor in Colorado and New Hampshire and her current volunteer status as an instructor and trainer for the Vermont Adaptive Ski and Snowsports program at Sugarbush, Vermont.

Kristy worked with Dr. Block from the very inception of the Shake-It-Up program, facilitating the relationship between Shake-A-Leg and the project. During the implementation phase, she participated in various aspects of the recreation component.

Paul Choquette, MA

Paul currently serves as the Project Coordinator for the State of Rhode Island Cash and Counseling program in the RI Department of Human Services, where he is responsible for implementing a consumer directed home and community based Medicaid Waiver program for people with disabilities under a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He also has been employed at the Southern New England Rehabilitation Center in Providence, RI where he was a Rehab Case Manager/Rehabilitation Counselor and facilitator of its Spinal Cord Injury support group.

Previously, Paul was the Program Director at the PARI Independent Living Center in Pawtucket RI, where he was responsible for the day to day operation of Rhode Island's Consumer Directed Personal Care Attendant program for adults with severe physical disabilities. He has a particular interest in the access and availability of Substance Abuse treatment services for people with disabilities as well as issues of Health Promotion and Wellness for people with disabilities. He served as a an Education Facilitator for Project Shake-It-Up, providing Training and education to program participants in the areas of Health, Wellness and Independent Living.

Paul is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and received his Master of Arts in Rehabilitation Counseling from Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Paul also serves as the Chairperson of the RI Governor's Commission on Disabilities, is a member of the Board of Directors of United Cerebral Palsy of RI and President of Challenge Cycling.

Matt Sullivan
Data Collector, Case Coordinator

Matt Sullivan has been working for PARI Independent Living Center as a Counselor for 8 years where he provides peer support, advocacy, information & referral and skills training to people with disabilities. In addition to these four core services, Matt facilitates the Habilitative Waiver (securing community based services for people with disabilities that meet a hospital level of care), as well as the Nursing Home Transition Grant (a program offered in Rhode Island designed to remove barriers that will impede a person transitioning from an institutional setting to independent living). Matt has a disability himself, SCI C,6-7, and was excited when approached to assist with the Shake It Up Program, where he conducted assessments with participants involved with the study.

Elizabeth Vanner, MS

Elizabeth Vanner is an Assistant Professor in the Rehabilitation Sciences Division, School of Health Technology and Management, Stony Brook University. She teaches statistics and research design to the students in several programs and is responsible for the research design and data analysis of all quantitative aspects of student research in the Occupational Therapy Program. She was the principal data analyst and collector for a NMSS-funded pilot study on barriers to physical and recreational activities for people with Multiple Sclerosis.

Other recent research includes: the Influence of Leisure/Social Activities on Quality of Life of Assisted Living Residents; the Influence of Occupations and Roles within Family Life on Perceived Quality of Life among Chinese and Korean American Elders; Undergraduate College Students’ Knowledge and Value of the Occupational Therapy Profession; Making Dental Professionals Smile: How Knowledge & Utilization of Ergonomic Equipment Effects Levels of Reported Pain Among Dental Professionals; and Strategies to Promote Culturally Competent Occupational Therapy Practice.

Liz is a graduate of Harvard University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemical Sciences, and the Harvard School of Public Health, where she earned a joint Master of Science degree in Health Policy & Management and Biostatistics.

Francis Sparadeo, PhD
Workshop Facilitator

Dr. Francis Sparadeo was the director of Rehabilitation Psychology at Rhode Island Hospital from 1982 to 1988. He was the director of Rehabilitation Psychology at Southern New England Rehabilitation Center from 1988 to 1989 when he accepted a national position as National Director of Substance Abuse and Brain Injury Rehabilitation for a rehabilitation hospital system. Dr. Sparadeo held this position from 1989 to 1992.

In 1992 he returned to Rhode Island Hospital where he was co-director of the former Concussion Center at Rhode Island Hospital. He was the clinical co-investigator on a project studying injury and intoxication in the emergency department at Rhode Island Hospital. He has published many scientific articles and book chapters.

Currently, Dr. Sparadeo is the Chairman of the Governor's Permanent Advisory Commission on Traumatic Brain Injury. He is on the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of Rhode Island and he belongs to several professional organizations including the American Psychological Association, where he has been recognized with a Certificate of Proficiency in the Addictions by the College of Professional Psychology.

Dr. Sparadeo is currently in private practice in Providence, Rhode Island. He also serves as the Director of the Member Assistance Program for the Laborer's International Union of North America Locals in Rhode Island.

Student volunteers

Lisa Colaco, Belinda Marshall, Molly Hostetler, Leslie Koren, Kiki Nun, Johanna Chang.