Climate Change, Disability, and Rehabilitation Workshop

Dates: Running on Thursdays from September 29 - October 20, 2022

Time: 12:00 - 1:30 P.M. EST

Climate change is the biggest public health concern of the 21st century.  In response, medical specialties such as emergency medicine, pediatrics and psychiatry have emphasized the impacts of climate and health in their representative specialties. The field of rehabilitation is now following their lead.  The UN only acknowledged the concerns of persons living with disabilities in 2019. Persons with disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable to climate change and knowledge needs to be developed and spread about the issues of climate change mitigation and adaptation both for persons with disabilities and for the broader population that physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists care for. 

The goal of this Day for Tomorrow interactive workshop series is to highlight the urgent need for rehabilitation providers to work together globally with persons with disabilities and specialists in other areas to ensure persons with disabilities have climate justice and their health and overall life concerns are addressed.  In this course we will address issues of adaptation and mitigation to climate change in rehabilitation care along with discussing recommendations from leaders in the climate change community that are living with disabilities.

Session Information 

Session 1: Climate Change and Disability: What are the health and ability concerns?

Video Recording   |   Slide Decks

DATE/TIME: Sept 29, 2022 from 12:00 - 1:30 PM EST 

Speakers: Cecilia Sorensen, Marcalee Alexander, Carl Leochico, Maya Newman

Description: There are over 1 billion people in the world living with disabilities.  People living with disabilities often live with altered mobility or sensory dysfunctions. They may also require medications, supplies and assistance from other individuals and they may have difficulties being in cramped places such as shelters. In addition people with disabilities do not live in a vacuum and they often have concomitant medical, psychological or social concerns that compound their needs. 

Still there are many types and degrees of disability and the needs of persons with disabilities are diverse. The goal of this session is to discuss the relationships between  climate change, disability, health and function so the audience can consider the impact of these issues on persons with disabilities both separately and in combination.   

Session 2: Climate Change and Rehabilitation Therapies - Special Considerations

DATE/TIME: October 6, 2022 from 12:00 - 1:30 PM EST 

Speakers: Adesola OdoleNishu TyagiAndrew OlagunjuTiffany Pritchett

Description: Rehabilitation is a team based process which requires the participation of many specialists who jointly  address different concerns. The goal of this session is to describe the roles of various therapists in working with persons with disabilities and how individual disciplines can help persons with disabilities sustain their abilities despite the climate crisis.

Session 3: Responding to climate change: What does this mean to persons with Disabilities?

DATE/TIME: October 13, 2022 from 12:00 - 1:30 PM EST 

Speakers: Alex GhenisAmina AuduLiz TrestonGretchelle Dilan

Description: Persons living with disabilities are resilient and have important life experiences related to living with their abilities. Yet, the lens which able-bodied leaders often use to plan for the future does not include the wisdom of persons living with disabilities. This issue may compound the vulnerabilities of persons living with disabilities to the effects of climate change.  Moreover, as we develop a greener future for all, not including the wisdom of persons living with disabilities may result in a loss of accessibility.  The goal of this session is to describe the views of persons with disabilities and how non-disabled health care professionals can ensure that the wisdom of persons with disabilities is incorporated into future planning. 

Session 4: Healthcare providers can be part of the solution

DATE/TIME: October 20, 2022 from 12:00 - 1:30 PM EST

Speakers: Tina Duhaime, Caleb DresserEric LewandowskiAnita Lowe

Description: While health care is an important part of life, health care systems also have their own carbon footprints which can be substantial. The goal of this session is to discuss methods for rehabilitation systems of care to address the carbon footprints of their own health care practices and thus help with climate change mitigation.  

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Direct any questions to hec2141@columbia.edu

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