September 26, 2005

Contact: Bridgid Isworth: (505) 925.4071, (505) 463.6044 Cell.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Christopher Reeve Foundation and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center (PRC) announced a multi-year partnership with the UNM Center for Development and Disability (CDD) to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

The first step in the partnership is to discover what "quality of life" really means to people with disabilities. Over 20 percent of Americans report having some type of disability, and very few efforts have been made to discover what is important to them about the quality of their lives. This will be the topic at the upcoming annual Southwest Conference on Disability, to be held September 28-30 at the Albuquerque Convention Center .

Keynote addresses, breakout sessions and exhibits will focus on the conference theme, ‘Quality of Life - Making it real!". The Reeve Foundation will also be sending a film crew to the conference to interview conference participants about what is important to them about quality of life. The interviews will become part of a video to be distributed nationally by the Reeve organization.

The 2005 Southwest Conference on Disability is an annual event hosted by the University of New Mexico School of Medicine's Center for Development and Disability (UNM CDD), the New Mexico Governor's Commission on Disability and the New Mexico Department of Health. National Conference partners include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Christopher Reeve Foundation and the American Association on Health and Disability. The 2005 Conference will attract several hundred researchers, disability advocates and state and federal government officials from 23 states and other countries, including a delegation from Nepal .

Other parts of the partnership include supporting an extensive research program to determine the incidence of paralysis and disability in America and a comprehensive evaluation of the Quality of Life Grants Program administered by the Reeve Foundation. This year, the CRPF awarded $861,592 in Quality of Life grants to 108 non-profit organizations nationwide to improve the well being of people living with paralysis and related disabilities. In addition, the CDD will support extensive research on determining actual figures of paralysis and disability in America. The CDD will also be developing a national evaluation of the services provided by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center (PRC).

"Between the CDD and the Christopher Reeve Foundation, we are trying aim to make quality of life real for people with disabilities," Senior Scientist for the CDD Disability and Health Policy Resource Unit, Anthony Cahill, Ph.D., said.