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The History

Dr. Marcalee Alexander, a physiatrist and Dr. Craig Alexander,  a rehabilitation psychologist are staunch advocates for the environment. After working for 33 years in rehabilitation and having difficulty trying to have professionals attend to the threats of climate change with regards to people with disabilities, the Alexanders decided traditional academic channels were insufficient to raise awareness about climate change.

On June 21, 2019 the Alexanders began a walk from Campobello Island in Canada to Key West, Florida to raise awareness regarding climate change and disability and bring together professionals and persons with disabilities in community regarding this important concern. Along the way, they held multiple events included scores of presentations, a walk in New York City with a presentation at the Oculus of the World Trade Center and a walk through the city of Philadelphia with an event at the Love Statue. In Washington, DC the first Day for Tomorrow event was held on the National Mall.


The walk was halted in Rocky Mount, North Carolina due to Covid 19. The mission transitioned to a virtual world.  Sustain Our Abilities was developed as a 501C3 nonprofit and the Sustain Our Abilities advisory board was started and grew to have a worldwide focus. The team developed on-line educational events without borders focusing on disability, quality of life and climate change. In order to promote green healthcare, the book Telerehabilitation: Principles and Practice was published by the SOA team and Dr. Alexander worked with Elsevier to launch The Journal of Climate Change and Health and became Editor-in-Chief.  The group also focused on expanding education internationally and the book Sexual Sustainability: A Guide to Having a Great Sex Life with a Spinal Cord Disorder was translated into Spanish, Hindi, Italian and Greek as a means to share knowledge. The book More Sex, Less Drugs was also published to educate people on a climate friendly way to improve quality of life. Moreover, all proceeds from book sales go to support Sustain Our Abilities.  

We never know how our lives will evolve and in 2022, the Alexanders’ awareness-raising walk was renamed The GRAHAM (Green Route Aiding Healthy Adaptation and Mitigation) in memory of the tragic and untimely death on December 6, 2021 at age 20 of their son Graham Alexander. 

The organization continued to grow and in 2022 we were able to help facilitate the development of position statements on climate change from the Association of Academic Physiatrists and the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine along with a four part course on climate change, rehabilitation and disability in conjunction with the Global Consortium on Climate Change and Health Education.  SOA became an observer organiztion at the UNFCCC meetings and participated at Glasgow, Sharm-El-Sheik and Dubai, giving presentations on climate change and disability.

In 2023 SOA led the development of Climate Health 2023. 


In 2024 SOA is hosting many educational events. There is an online four part course in Spanish along with online and in person seminars in English in conjunction with the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. We are also working on the development of a text entitled Climate Change and Disability: A Collaborative Approach to a Sustainable Future for All. 

The Graham walk evolved into the Graham journey and Marcalee Alexander completed the journey on a recumbent bike riding into Key West on April 15th 2024.  Most importantly, in April 2024, after five years in existence, SOA expanded into a membership-based organization to promote greater knowledge, participation and solidarity in the fight against climate change and the impacts on the health of persons with and without disabilities around the world.      

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