New initiative aims to promote mobility for children with disabilities worldwide

A team of global partners, headed by Dr. David Dausey, Director of the Mercyhurst University Institute for Public Health, has tasked itself with the daunting challenge of bringing mobility to children with disabilities of developing nations.

Dr. David Dausey

Dr. David Dausey

“Mobility to a child in a developing country is the difference between education versus no education, societal engagement versus no societal engagement and individual freedom versus dependence,” Dausey said.

Dausey recently traveled to Guanajuato, Mexico, with a team of students, volunteers and researchers to conduct research and to establish a wheelchair repair depot. All too often, he said, donated wheelchairs – some only months old – become damaged, often due to rough terrain, and are abandoned. The new depot in Guanajuato will strengthen mobility opportunities for disabled children and represents the first of similar stations that Dausey hopes to replicate throughout Latin America.

Dausey discusses the “Lifelong Mobility Project” and his recent trip to Mexico in this month’s installment of The Dausey File: Public Health News. Last month, the noted researcher, epidemiologist and public health scholar examines mainstream public health issues, from childhood obesity to infectious diseases, providing viewers with valuable insights that can be applied to their everyday lives.

Several years ago, Dausey began working with the American Wheelchair Mission and Teletón in Mexico on a project designed to better understand the causes of disability in developing countries and to increase the availability of wheelchairs to children with disabilities. The project, funded by the Benter Foundation, became known as the “Lifelong Mobility Project” because of its focus on helping disabled children to remain mobile for their entire lives. In recent years, multiple partners have joined or supported the effort, including Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences; Rotarians and Knights of Columbus.

The World Health Organization estimates that there are more than 650 million children with disabilities worldwide. Nearly 80 percent of them live in developing nations. One fifth of the world’s poorest people are disabled. One in ten children in the world is disabled. Less than 5 percent of disabled children in developing nations have the opportunity to go to school.

“The Lifelong Mobility Project is designed to ensure that all children in the world have the ability to be mobile,” Dausey said. “Its goals are threefold: to find ways to prevent disability in children before it occurs, to maximize the availability of wheelchairs and mobility devices to children with disabilities and to ensure that children in need of a wheelchair get one that is designed to meet their needs.”

For more information or to help, contact Dausey at ddausey@mercyhurst.edu.

Source: Mercyhurst College