The Community Health and Mobility Partnership (CHAMP) program began in McDowell County, North Carolina in 2009. The purpose of the program is to improve the health of older adults and to decrease their risk of falling. Emphasis is placed on improvements in muscle strength, balance, and mobility by use of an individualized home exercise program based on the Otago Exercise Programme.1

The idea for the CHAMP project originated with faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), and the project became a reality with funding from the Baxter International Foundation, McDowell County government, and the UNC Center for Aging and Health. The original academic-community partnership included the UNC Division of Physical Therapy, the UNC School of Nursing, Western Carolina University Department of Physical Therapy, the Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI), McDowell County Senior Center, and McDowell Technical Community College, as well as representatives from a number of other McDowell County agencies and organizations.

Although some of the partnering organizations have changed over time, members of the partnership have always valued the reciprocal learning that takes place between those receiving services, community partners, and interprofessional academic faculty and students. CHAMP is based on the premise that health care students can provide needed services to older adults in the community while at the same time receiving valuable training. Our model of the process by which an integrated learning experience like CHAMP can benefit academic institutions and communities is shown in the following figure.2

We are excited to see students and faculty from a growing number of colleges and universities working alongside local clinicians at CHAMP events! Our vision is to expand CHAMP to reach rural communities across North Carolina.

Mission Statement

CHAMP’s mission is to prevent falls in community-dwelling older adults and people with disabilities, with a focus on rural and underserved communities. CHAMP seeks to accomplish this mission by:

  • Providing comprehensive assessment of risk factors for falls
  • Implementing evidence-based exercise interventions to improve strength, balance, and mobility
  • Providing education and services free of charge to participants
  • Communicating with primary care physicians and other members of the health care team, and referring CHAMP participants to other providers as indicated
  • Providing service learning opportunities to multiple disciplines
  • Fostering intergenerational interaction

We function as a partnership that values:

  • Reaching out to adults throughout the region in which the program is implemented, without regard to age, race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or any other personal characteristic
  • To the greatest extent possible, maintaining fidelity in implementation of Otago and any other evidence-based intervention(s)
  • Ensuring safety and quality of services
  • Providing a rich learning environment for interprofessional collaboration and education
  • Evaluating methods and outcomes
  • Ensuring program sustainability


McDowell County Senior Center
100 Spaulding Road
Marion, NC 28752

Quest4Life Wellness Center
1031 Morganton Blvd SW, Suite A
Lenoir, NC 28645
Grove Street Senior Opportunity Center
36 Grove Street
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 350-2062


CHAMP would like to acknowledge the generous support and funding we have received from the following:

  • Baxter International Foundation
  • Carolina Center for Public Service
  • McDowell County Government
  • North Carolina AHEC
  • UNC Center for Aging and Health