2012 APHA Experience – Carolyn Lullo
Though I had been to APHA once before, the opportunity to attend this year’s meeting was unique to what I had previously experienced. Last year I primarily spent my time working at a booth, leaving me curious about what goes on outside the walls of the exhibit hall. This year, I was able to attend many different aspects of the meeting and immerse myself in the science and practice of disability and public health. As new opportunities have continued to professionally shape me, I came to this conference with a broadened understanding of the intersection of disability and public health. Because of this new perspective, I had more interest in stepping outside of my niche area of physical activity and gaining a more holistic understanding of the work that is currently being done. And I was so thankful that I did!
Beyond simply absorbing the content presented during the scientific sessions, I benefited greatly from the conversations that occurred before and after the sessions, in the hallways, during the events, and around the posters. In addition to the obvious opportunities for networking, it was in these conversations that I was able to gain a deeper understanding of individual projects, learn the nuances of the direction of disability and public health, discuss my area of work and how it relates to the work in which others are engaged, and be challenged to continue to push forward the science and practice of the field.
I left the conference encouraged that there is such a strong group of individuals with an unfaltering commitment to advancing the field to improve quality of life and opportunities for people with disabilities. I also left with a heightened awareness of the work that needs to be done for that vision to be realized, and a sense of urgency to contribute to the steps we take towards it.