Posted by Dustin Luecke
A new adaptive rec center provides an opportunity to put the "People of Action" idea into practice
The problem posed by the current state of rehabilitative care is significant.
"A vast majority of people who have challenges...are really invisible in public life," said Dr. Ginny Wintersteen.
A pediatrician and member of the STAR Association board of directors, Wintersteen said there's a wide gap between the services provided for people with disabilities in school settings or immediately after hospital care and those available for long-term care. US Census data show about 1 in 5 Americans has a disability, and after school age, many people no longer receive physical or occupational therapy, which leads to a decline in physical function.
Wintersteen stressed to those at the July 23 RAH meeting that it's not disability that causes health issues, but a lack of opportunity for exercise. That's the impetus behind creation of the Sport, Therapeutic and Adaptive Recreation (STAR) Association, and what they hope is a soon-to-be state of the art STAR Center in La Crosse.
"So this is the problem we started looking at," Wintersteen said. "'How do we do this?'"
The association started by studying other communities around the country. What they found, according to Wintersteen, was that most models for adaptive recreation were based on a medical model and did not address the gap of opportunity. In order then to create better health equity amid increasing costs, Wintersteen said a change needed to be made to a community model.
With that in mind, the association seeks the build the STAR Center near the former rubber mill plant at St. Andrew & George Streets in La Crosse. The 80,000 sq. ft. facility would feature rehab equipment and spaces well beyond the basic ADA compliance. A partnership with university students learning to be physical therapists and their professors and professional mentors would provide the instruction and guidance aspect to safely and effectively use the space--a space that would be open to all in the community.
A facility like that doesn't come cheap. The total project costs $21,000,000--only about half of which is covered by tax credits and grants.
That's where the community comes into play. Donate online at the STAR Center website, and help create better health outcomes and a highly visible home for a population that can sometimes seem invisible.