The History of Lakeshore: A Legacy of Leadership in the Disability World
Lakeshore has a rich history rooted in helping individuals with physical disabilities and chronic health conditions that dates all the way back to the early 20th century. Birmingham was among the many cities in the United States affected by tuberculosis during the 1920’s. In response to the rising number of cases the Birmingham community saw the need to establish a tuberculosis hospital. Land along Lakeshore Drive was donated, and the Jefferson Tuberculosis Sanatorium was formed in 1926. The building served in this capacity for several decades. By the mid 1960’s, the need for a tuberculosis sanatorium was greatly diminished. The Sanatorium board of directors began exploring alternative uses for the property and finally decided on transforming it into a physical rehabilitation hospital.
In 1973 the transition to Lakeshore Rehabilitation Hospital was complete. During the early 1970’s, UAB graduate student Michael Stephens served an internship at the hospital. Upon graduation in Health Administration, Stephens assumed the role of Administrator for Lakeshore Hospital. From the beginning of his tenure, Stephens noticed that patients were discharged but would then be readmitted soon thereafter with bedsores and other secondary health conditions. Stephens realized the need for physical activity to improve the lives of Lakeshore patients, and he saw physical activity as the solution.
|Mike Stephens and Bart Troxell|
Wheelchair basketball proved to be very popular and over the years the programs expanded to other sports. Soon basketball was joined by tennis, swimming, track, aerobics, and numerous youth programs. In the early 1980’s, Stephens worked to obtain funding for on-campus recreational facilities. In 1984 the decision was made to put those community based fitness and recreation programs under a new entity called Lakeshore Foundation.
Over time, these sport, fitness, and recreation programs both grew and shifted from being operated by the Lakeshore Hospital to being managed by Lakeshore and open to anyone living with a physical disability. Lakeshore has become an internationally renowned organization serving over 4000 unique individuals annually through fitness, recreation, sports, and research.
Today the work of Lakeshore falls in three general categories: Programs, Research and Policy & Advocacy. At the core of all three is the belief that physical activity is a crucial element in the lives of people with disability and chronic health conditions.
|Five individuals on a walk/stroll|
In the late 1990’s, Lakeshore recognized an opportunity to contribute to the growing need for research related to physical activity and disability. A Research and Education Department was established shortly after in 2001. Over the next several years, the Department undertook collaborative projects and conducted program evaluation studies on Lakeshore’s programs.
|Jeff Underwood and Jim Rimmer|
With the outstanding leadership of the nation’s leading researcher in physical activity and disability, Dr. Jim Rimmer, the UAB/Lakeshore Collaborative is poised to have a national and international impact on the lives of individuals with disability and their access to appropriate physical activity. We are excited for this opportunity and up for the challenge!