Current VPA News

The Fitness Inclusion Network (Fit-IN), a collaboration of the Upstate Foundation/Golisano Children's Hospital, SUNY Cortland’s Department of Physical Education and the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) of Syracuse University, has partnered with students and faculty in the collaborative design program of the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ School of Design to present its annual conference on inclusive fitness with a focus on adapted design.

The conference will be held Oct. 9-11 at the Nancy Cantor Warehouse, 350 W. Fayette St., Syracuse. It is free and open to the public.

Adapted design looks to address shortcomings in the places we inhabit, the products we possess and the interfaces we navigate. Each has the power to support or hinder our ability to function within society.

The conference brings together national experts, students and individuals with a range of abilities. Presenters include Tim Davis, FlagHouse Inc.; Michele Lobo and Martha Hall, GoBabyGo/FUNctional Fashion, University of Delaware; Joseph Clifford and Skip Meetze, e-NABLE; and Central New York athletes Chloe Crawford, world-champion paraclimber; Peyton Sefick, member, Team USA/CNY United, United States Power Soccer Association; Robert Balk, six-time Paralympian and former chair, International Paralympic Committee’s Athletes’ Council; and Jill Walsh, world-champion paracycler. A schedule of events can be found at

“Call them designers, craftsmen, occupational therapists or simply problem solvers—there are a variety of people out there solving real-world problems,” says Don Carr, professor of industrial and interaction design and coordinator of the collaborative design program. “The goal of this three-day seminar is to introduce the world of adapted design through the stories of people with a range of needs and those working to address their needs.”

Syracuse University students from the School of Design as well as the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs will participate in the seminar.

“Students will work together with families, dancers and athletes who have disabilities in order to accurately identify design challenges and to work together to create design solutions,” says Dr. Nienke Dosa, Upstate Foundation Professor of Child Health Policy at Upstate Medical University/Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and a senior fellow at BBI. “This is not a medical conference about mobility devices or durable medical equipment; rather, we will focus on design for social recreation, sport and dance. The conference will require all involved to think about our community, about disability and about movement in terms of participation, human potential and creative expression.”

Fit-IN is a grass-roots group of athletes, students, families and professionals in adapted physical education, medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, engineering, therapeutic recreation, special education, social work and disability policy and law. Its mission is to develop innovative ways to promote and support inclusive fitness for children, adolescents and adults with disabilities in Central New York.

For more information about the seminar, contact Carr at or Dosa at