Heidi says that when she arrived in Corvallis in 1995 to earn her PhD in Movement Studies in Disability “I knew I had found my new home on the west coast.” She had received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in her native Nova Scotia but quickly embraced all that OSU and Oregon had to offer.
During her time at OSU, Heidi was a leader in the college’s IMPACT program for children with disabilities and taught PAC 100, an activity course for OSU students with disabilities.
Heidi taught at Washington State University for a year then headed to St. Francis Xavier University back in Nova Scotia from 1999-2004. There she founded and coordinated several adapted physical activity (APA) programs including: MAX (Motor Activities at “X”) a weekly swim-gym program modeled after IMPACT; an exercise program for older adults; an adapted physical education program for local special education students; and an exercise program for adults with mental illness.
In her five years at St. Francis Xavier, Heidi involved over 400 students in her programs. “Because of the valuable experience and skills that I gained from the MSD program, I had the confidence to develop new programs in different communities,” says Heidi. “I loved my OSU experience and credit Jeff McCubbin for developing an outstanding MSD program that trained me to be a successful professional. I often meet MSD graduate students at conferences such as AAHPERD and NAFAPA and enjoy hearing about their exciting research.”
Heidi has been on faculty at University of Massachusetts Boston since 2004 and also has an adjunct appointment at UMass Medical School. Students in her APA class assist in programs all over Greater Boston including Perkins School for the Blind and Special Olympics. Heidi has been fortunate to obtain research grants from the Medical foundation and the National Institutes of Health to conduct exploratory and intervention studies to promote physical activity and health among people with developmental disabilities.
She recently completed a study of a peer-guided exercise program for adolescents with intellectual disabilities at the YMCA called Team UP for Fitness. She is currently working on a community-based participatory project that aims to develop and pilot a physical activity program for youth with autism spectrum disorders, and she is excited to start an NIH-funded study called “Correlates of physical activity in adolescents with intellectual disabilities”. Heidi has collaborated with other OSU grads Georgia Frey and Chris Draheim in publishing and presenting her work internationally. She travelled to Sweden in summer 2009 to present her work at the International Symposium of Adapted Physical Activity after which she and her boyfriend Bill spent a few days enjoying Prague. Earlier this year she presented that the American College of Sports Medicine meeting in Seattle.
“I love Boston, the wonderful arts and entertainment scene and especially the great restaurants!” says Heidi adding, “I do hope to visit Corvallis and the OSU campus again soon – I’m a little homesick for the Women’s Building.”