Accessible Health and Wellness Center

Paraquad’s Board of Directors is proud to announce a new commitment to health and wellness for people with disabilities. Paraquad will increase opportunities for people with disabilities to exercise and improve their health through the expansion of our current fitness facility. The board has authorized the renovation of a property directly behind our main building that will be exclusively dedicated to health and wellness for people with disabilities.

The new Accessible Health and Wellness Center, scheduled to open no later than spring 2017, will feature more than 40 pieces of accessible exercise equipment and serve up to 500 people annually. The $1.5 million renovation of a former manufacturing building and warehouse will be funded through private donations, so please consider donating to make exercise more accessible for people with disabilities.

Project Overview

Paraquad, The Disability Experts, has been a leader in promoting equality, opportunity and independence for people with disabilities since 1970.

In 2004, Paraquad developed the only fully accessible fitness center in St. Louis, but we have outgrown our limited space. Now, to meet the growing needs of our community, we have a vision to dramatically expand fitness and recreation opportunities for people with disabilities.

Our goal is to create a unique venue — with specialized equipment and an expert staff of physical and occupational therapists — where people with disabilities can exercise, receive assistance continuing their post-rehabilitation training and participate in recreational activities. This project will serve five times the number of people we currently do and will feature enriched health and wellness activities, including programs with collaborative partners like Washington University School of Medicine and Logan University.

Accessible Health and Wellness Center

Annually, the cost to operate the Health and Wellness Center will be about $300,000. Those costs will be offset through built-in revenue opportunities as well as an agency commitment to fundraising:

  • Memberships to the fitness center (with unadvertised sliding-scale rates to serve individuals who cannot afford the full cost).
  • Rental of office and programming space to partner organizations.
  • Research grants involving our university partners.
  • Philanthropic support, particularly to provide access to exercise for people with limited resources.

Understanding the Need

Disability and Health Needs
A lack of activity compounds the challenges of maintaining health and independence for people with disabilities:

  • Adults with disabilities are three times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer than adults without disabilities.
  • People with disabilities are at a greater risk for secondary health conditions (bowel or bladder problems, fatigue, depression, obesity, pressure sores or ulcers, and pain) that, at minimum, decrease quality of life.
  • People with disabilities who are not active are more dependent on others for personal care.
  • People with disabilities who are not active are less likely to be employed.

Paraquad’s current fitness center got its start in 2004, through a partnership with the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine. What began as a research project has outgrown its space in our building. Currently, we are limited to serving a maximum of 100 members, and we maintain a waiting list of another 60+ people — without any marketing or recruitment efforts.

The Accessible Health and Wellness Center will serve up to 500 people annually with all types of disabilities (mobility, vision, hearing, cognitive, developmental and neurological), including veterans and older adults with age-related disabilities.

Exercise and Health Benefits
Paraquad’s Accessible Health and Wellness Center is not just another fitness center or rehabilitation facility. In fact, it will accomplish things that those facilities cannot.

The Accessible Health and Wellness Center offers access to adaptive exercise equipment, occupational and physical therapy expertise, and research opportunities and therapeutic services not available at typical fitness facilities.

Additionally, participants can utilize the Center for as long as they want — building a lifetime of health and wellness. Insurance coverage for rehabilitation services continues to get shorter, often ending when an individual accomplishes certain, basic benchmarks of independence and self-care. The Accessible Health and Wellness Center is a long-term alternative to continue to rehabilitate, build strength and endurance, and pursue personal fitness goals.

Paraquad’s Accessible Health and Wellness Center is a unique facility with specialized equipment and expert staff that supports long-term fitness and health goals for people with disabilities. There is no other facility in the St. Louis area like it. And it works.

According to data compiled by Washington University School of Medicine, during the first 12 weeks of exercise at our current fitness center participants experience:

  • A 25 percent increase in physical strength.
  • Improvement in 75 percent of reported secondary conditions, led by significant decreases in fatigue and improvements in blood pressure.
  • Significant increases in endurance for the first two three-minute segments of a nine-minute endurance test.

This data supports conclusions also found in numerous academic studies:

  • Aerobic and strength-training programs can lead to health improvements, regardless of impairment levels.
  • Regular exercise reduces the severity of symptoms for neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Benefits of regular exercise for people with disabilities include increased heart and lung function, improved ability to perform daily activities, decrease in chronic diseases, decrease in anxiety and depression, weight control, and lowered cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Adapted exercise reduces secondary conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Support the Project

There are numerous ways to support Paraquad’s new Accessible Health and Wellness Center, including a one-time or recurring donation, or by taking advantage of one of the naming opportunities listed below.

Fitness Center – $250,000
Lobby/Atrium – $200,000
Fitness Training Room – $100,000
Mobility Skills Course – $100,000
Conference Room – $75,000
Men’s Locker Room – $75,000
Women’s Locker Room – $75,000
Director’s Office – $50,000
HIPAA Compliance Office – $50,000
Concessions – $50,000
Fitness Center Staff Offices (Four) – $25,000

For more information, contact Mike Meyer, Director of Development, at (314) 289-4330 or

Missouri Department of Economic Development LogoPartially underwritten by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Neighborhood Assistance Program.