News Archive

Office of Recreation and Park Resources Determine what Illinoisans Want Concerning Outdoor Recreation

Author: Nathaniel Leonardi

Published Date:October 23, 2014


Dr. Jarrod Scheunemann, Robin Hall, and graduate student Megan Owens of the Office of Recreation and Park Resources at the University of Illinois conducted a survey for the Illinois Department of Natural Resource’s Office of Realty and Environmental Planning biennially.  The survey is used to assess the outdoor physical usage of and quality of outdoor recreational organizations, such as park districts, municipalities, and forest preserve/conservation districts. 


The survey concluded that Illinois holistically determined that there needs to be an increased number of trails, hiking, walking, nature, and multiuse, due to a large request population.  According to the survey, more than 800 trails are being developed statewide.  Through an increased number of trails, the economic gain from communities around those trails also increase. 


Outdoor sport pickle ball is also on the rise.  With a large population of older adults, the sport, a combination of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, has gained popularity due to its lighter intensity level.  The number of pickle ball courts is increasing, however lower than the number of bocce ball and horseshoe courts. 


The survey determined the impact fiscal constraints play on the recreation department.  Communities are switching to splash pads rather than pools in order to decrease costs.  Similarly, multiuse fields are being built constructed in order to refrain from constructing multiple types of fields for different sports or activities. 


For the Full article, please visit the Inside Illinois Article at

Published Date: October 23, 2014

AHS New Faculty: Carena van Riper

Author: Nathaniel Leonardi

Published Date:October 9, 2014


Dr. Carena van Riper is a recent addition to the Department of Recreation, Sports, and Tourism.  Dr. van Riper recently received her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University with a certificate from the National Science Foundation’s Applied Biodiversity Program.  Her educational career took her through various parts of the world including Australia, Peru, Arizona, Vermont, Texas, and now Illinois.  Dr. van Riper is extremely excited to continue her career at the University of Illinois.  The quality of the University of Illinois’s research environment as well internationally recognized faculty in the department drew her to this position.


Dr. van Riper’s research primarily focuses on the psychological mechanisms (e.g., values, norms, human-place bonding) that underlie behaviors leading to impacts on protected areas, particularly surrounding coastal and aquatic environments.  Much of her work is used to develop management interventions that can increase public involvement in decision-making and sustain the flow of benefits that nature provides to stakeholders such as outdoor recreationists.  She plans to focus her interests in water-based recreation on the great lakes and surrounding Midwestern protected areas.  She looks forward to experiencing freedom of through provided by an academic environment and plethora of opportunities associated with starting her own research program.


The strong sense of community and collaborative nature of the faculty have of Dr. van Riper’s favorite things about Champaign-Urbana.  The Urbana farmer’s markets, bike friendly roads, and the abundance of green space, are also very appealing to her.  As an individual whose research primarily focuses on the psychological benefits people obtain from nature, she has found the support for local and protected areas to be particularly inspiring. Dr. van Riper has felt very well supported sincer her arrival and she looks forward to building a career at the University of Illinois.  

Published Date: October 9, 2014

CHAD RFDA begins with ICR Reconstruction lecture

Author: Nathaniel Leonardi

Published Date:October 2, 2014

The Center on Health, Aging, and Disability recently began a program titled Research and Faculty Development Academy for faculty within the College of Applied Health Sciences in order to enhance the knowledge of the faculty concerning various issues within their positions on campus. The academy restarted the series with a topic of dire importance to the researching faculty on campus. The University of Illinois recently altered the policy of funding for research grants that will change the monetary amount the principle investigator receives for their research and how much the university/department receive as well. Similarly, this policy recently implemented a change in the cost of recruitment and retention of graduate student positions, general research funds, demands of renovations and lab space, growth of interdisciplinary research, and the issue of faculty researching outside of their own college.

CHAD’s interim director Dr. Jeffrey Woods, Professor of Kinesiology, co-lead the presentation with the Elizabeth Clawson, CPA and the Director of Budget Operations within the College of Applied Health Sciences. The title of this presentation was “Grand budgeting, new campus ICR policy and implications for proposal development.” Along with Dr. Woods and Mrs. Clawson, they were joined by Amber Floyd, the Grants and Contracts Coordinator for the College of Applied Health Sciences. The three individuals provided an excellent lecture and housed an open discussion for faculty within the College of Applied Sciences. The importance of this topic created a healthy discussion between the faculty which generated questions concerning the ICR redistribution and other related conversation topics.

For more information about the ICR Redistribution and this CHAD RDFA, please visit  to view the video from this presentation or to download the lecture slides. For more information about upcoming workshops please click here.


To sign up for the next RDFA meeting, please do so using this form.  

Published Date: October 2, 2014

USOC Makes It Official: U of I Announced as Paralympic Training Site

Author: Kayla Davis

Published Date:September 29, 2014


The United States Olympic Committee and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have agreed to designate the university, specifically the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES), as a U.S. Paralympic Training Site. The DRES venues, staff, and resources will provide an elite athlete training environment for current and aspiring Paralympic track & field athletes. Athletes within the College of Applied Health Sciences participated in the first Paralympic Games, so this continued partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee will surely deepen relations and intensify the celebration of athletic ability that these games represent. BP, the official sponsor supporting the training site at Illinois, has donated $160,000  toward the training site. It is honored to support the establishment of a site believed to be the future top Paralympic wheelchair racing training facility in the world.

For the original Article, Please visit

Published Date: September 29, 2014

Living potential, not limitation, has always been Nugent's goal

Author: Kayla Davis

Published Date:September 29, 2014


Timothy Nugent, leader and pioneer of Illinois' first comprehensive service program for students with disabilities, faced incredible adversity when he challenged conventional wisdom and attitudes surrounding individuals with disabilities in the late 1950s. Doctors, university administrators, and faculty alike were all critical of the World War II veteran's program ideas, questioning if students with disabilities could sufficiently develop the functional skills required to manage their own lives and needs. His resistant opponents often tried to destroy the program, communicating that students with disabilities would be a problem for the university because they would be demoralizing or distracting.

Now 91 years old, Nugent's need to change attitudes about individuals with disabilities by encouraging physical activity and establishing independence has helped Illinois lead the way in wheelchair sports, accessibility standards, and disability rights. It is a big change from 66 years ago, and now Illinois has the accommodations that students need: ramps to building entrances, curb cuts, more accessible classrooms, and access to gyms. The program has also developed other facilities and services such as Beckwith Hall, Nugent Hall, and the Division of Disability Resources & Educational Services.

To learn more about Timothy Nugent and his outstanding contributions to Illinois, Please visit

Published Date: September 29, 2014

AHS Faculty present to Board of Trustees

Author: Nathaniel Leonardi

Published Date:September 25, 2014


Recently, Dr. Aron Barbey, Speech and Hearing Science, and Dr. Marni Boppart, Kinesiology and Community Health, presented their research to the Board of Trustees.  Dr. Barbey’s research focuses on cognitive processes concerned with executive control, reasoning, and decision making.  Dr. Boppart’s research focuses on understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for muscle repair and growth post-exercise. 


To learn more about these individuals and the research they do on campus, please follow these links below and listen to their presentations to the Board of Trustees.



Published Date: September 25, 2014


Author: Penny Nigh

Published Date:June 26, 2014

University of Illinois Speech and Hearing Science Professor Fatima Husain

Patients with persistent ringing in the ears – a condition known as tinnitus – process emotions differently in the brain from those with normal hearing, researchers report in the journal Brain Research.


Published Date: June 26, 2014

Center of Health, Aging, and Disability Pilot Grant used to Promote Healthy Lifestyle Choices among African American Women

Author: Nathaniel Leonardi

Published Date:May 13, 2014

In an age of increasing health risks, it is important to promote healthy lifestyle choices that will expand life expectancy and quality of life.  In order to implement those healthy lifestyle choices in African-American women during their college years, Jacqueline McDowell and Kim Shinew, through the use of a Center of Health, Aging and Disability (CHAD) Pilot Grant, alongside other fitness and nutritional experts on campus, developed a program entitled Sport Intervention with Support, Training, Education, Realization and Socializing (SISTERS).  The purpose of this program is to increase physical activity levels through recreational sport andexercise and increase their knowledge of healthy lifestyle choices through weekly educational meetings.

Through the use of these educational meetings, the individuals in the program have been given the tools necessary to make informed decisions when shopping for groceries, such as implementing more fruits and vegetables into their diet as well as how to cook healthier versions of the foods they already eat.  The group utilized a cardio tennis program in order to implement aerobic exercise, due to various running activities, and muscle toning to raise heart rate and burn more calories.  The group recently participated in the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon on April 25th.  Although the program has concluded, individuals in the group still exercise regularly. 

It is important to target young adults who are enteringcollege due to the increase in sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits that they frequently engage in..  The SISTERS program focused on African-American women because of the greater risk for developing obesity and other related diseases.  In order to continue to receive the benefits of healthy and active lifestyles, the activities must be enjoyable, easily accessible, and create social opportunities. 

Individuals in the program were freshman, sophomores, or juniors in order to track the impact that this program has on an individual’s lifestyle choices and fitness levels.  According to the preliminary analysis, all of the women that were enrolled in the study improved their cardiovascular fitness, increased their overall physical fitness, and furthered their ability to choose better nutritional options.  This study is just one of the studies on campus that have received CHAD pilot grant funding.  

For the Full Inside Illinois Article, please visit:

Published Date: May 13, 2014

Half of Adults with Disabilities get no Aerobic Physical Activity

Author: Alex Cukan

Published Date:May 13, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 82 percent of U.S. adults ages 18-64 with disabilities were more likely to be physically active if it was recommended by their doctor. CDC

ATLANTA, May 6 (UPI) -- Nearly half of U.S. adults with disabilities who are able to do aerobic physical activity do not, increasing their risks of heart disease, diabetes or cancer.

A Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 82 percent of U.S. adults ages 18-64 with disabilities were more likely to be physically active if their doctor recommended it, but only about 44 who saw a doctor in the past year were advised to increase physical activity.Adults with disabilities who do not get any aerobic physical activity are 50 percent more likely than their more active peers to have chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, stroke, or heart disease.“Physical activity is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug,” Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement.“Unfortunately, many adults with disabilities don’t get regular physical activity. That can change if doctors and other healthcare providers take a more active role helping their patients with disabilities develop a physical fitness plan that’s right for them.”

The CDC analyzed data from the 2009 to 2012 National Health Interview Survey involving physical activity levels.The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends all adults, including those with disabilities, get at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic physical activity each week, Frieden said.

Read more:

Published Date: May 13, 2014

Most Infant Death Rates will not reach goals for Healthy People 2020

Author: Nathaniel Leonardi

Published Date:April 9, 2014


The issue of health disparities is a large one in the healthcare industry.  Each decade, the nation sets goals that they plan to reach in regards to the overall health of the nation, titled Healthy People, and specifically for this decade, Healthy People 2020.  When concerning the infant mortality rate, only one demographic group is on target to decrease the infant mortality rate to below the goal rate and that group is white mothers with higher education levels.


Illinois faculty Flavia Andrade and her recent doctoral graduate Shondra Loggins have been looking at the infant mortality rates between different demographic groups and applying them to create better strategies and resources for individuals in demographic groups that will not reach the goals stated in Healthy People 2020. The duo also found that the infant mortality rates for white women are around half the infant mortality rate of black women (5.5 per 1000 vs 12 per 1000). The researchers focused on three plausible risk factors, marital status, maternal education, and prenatal care.  However, these risk factors only partially explained the disparities present in society.  Both marital status and higher education levels lowered the infant mortality rate for all races; however the disparities were still present. 


Although disparities are still very largely present in society, both Andrade and Loggins predict that the nation’s infant mortality rate will drop to around 5.5 deaths per 1000 in 2020, below the Healthy People 2020 goal.  In order to resolve disparities, prenatal care is a necessity, shown by the infant mortality rate of around four times greater for those who do not receive prenatal care as compared to those who do.  The affordable care act, through Medicaid, will allow more individuals to receive prenatal care.  Another cost effective technique is increased contraceptive availability to lower unplanned pregnancies and potentially infant deaths.  Increasing education and lowering the number of those who smoke are two important topics for campaigns targeting lowering the rate of infant mortality. 


The full article can be found on the Inside Illinois website at

Published Date: April 9, 2014