Recharging Resiliency Together

Register now for Recharging Resiliency Together! HDI would like to thank the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Quality of Life Grants Program for providing funding which helps give greater independence to individuals living with paralysis. This grant will provide our community with services and education that will truly enhance all our lives.

This virtual retreat will help you recharge your resilience by building your coping skills and expanding your social network to gain the necessary connections and supports to navigate the COVID-19 environment. After each retreat, follow-up group calls will be held to help participants use the skills learned during the retreat and lean into their peers for support.

Who can participate? Anyone 18 or older who has paralysis and lives in Kentucky.

What do you need to participate? Be available from 10:00am – 3:00pm for five consecutive days; have access to the Internet; have a tablet or laptop. Participants should select one session only.

Session 1: March 22 – 26

Session 2: May 10 – 14

Session 3: July 12 – 16

Session 4: September 13 – 17

Learn more and register at Contact Jason Jones at with any questions.


The Kentucky Post School Outcomes Center Takes on a New Look

The Kentucky Post School Outcomes Center (KYPSO) has a new project logo. KYPSO, a project of the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute, introduces a new logo that signifies growth and blossoming to represent the transition from high school to adult life for students with disabilities.

It takes a substantial investment of time and effort for growth and blossoming to occur.  For the past decade, the majority of KYPSO’s work has involved the Kentucky Department of Education, special education cooperatives, and some local education agencies.  Although their work with these partners continue, their goal is to increase the capacity of more local education agencies, teachers, parents, adult service providers and other community groups to provide exemplary transition planning.

KYPSO collects vital data that can and should be used to improve student post school success. Their annual administration of the Youth One Year Out former student interview (or the “YOYO”) will measure outcomes including employment, postsecondary education and independent living one year after a student exits high school. The public can access and search data categories at the KyPSO web site.

In addition to providing data, KYPSO provides technical assistance to anyone interested in learning ways to promote and support transition planning.  Contact KyPSO staff at with questions or to request additional information.  Help us build community and promote our work by following us on Facebook.

Join the KYPSO staff in improving outcomes for Kentucky’s young adults.

Ellie smiling in front of a red brick building

Universal Design Student Spotlight: Ellie Fahey

UK junior Ellie Fahey was looking for a note to get out of class when she happened upon the Human Development Institute’s Universal Design Program. 

Ellie explained, “I got a notification through the College of Health Sciences about the Special Olympics med event that they do every year and it was conflicting with one of my classes, so I was trying to see if I could get an excuse note so I could go [volunteer].”

MedFest offers the physical exam that all athletes need to participate in Special Olympics sports and is led by volunteer physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and medical students.

While trying to get her excuse note, Ellie expressed how passionate she is about working with people with disabilitiesand was referred to HDI because of her interest. She said, “It was kind of by chance that I even heard of it, but then once I started talking to people in HDI, I just took my first class [in Universal Design], and now I’ve decided to continue on with it and I really like it.”

In addition to the certificate program, Ellie is studying Human Health Sciences with a minor in health promotion and started working as a research assistant. Her next course in the Universal Design program is a practicum that she is doing with HDI’s Kentucky Inclusive Health Collaborative team.

Part of her practicum experience will involve working on awomen’s health project with women with disabilities. Ellie explained that “they don’t get breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings as frequently as people without disabilities, so we’re trying to figure out why.” Next steps will include overcoming barriers, encouraging screenings, and getting patients seen.

Ellie added, “Their rates [of these cancers] are higher and that’s just obviously not okay.” She has already applied some Universal Design principles to the project by using plain language in project documents.

When asked about her perspective on Universal Design Ellie said, “A lot of people think Universal Design is for people with disabilities… But I think it’s more like designing the world so it’s accessible for everybody, so we don’t have to necessarily have special things for people… [It’s] offering differentiation in the world to make it the best for everybody.”

Ellie plans to go into healthcare as a physician’s assistant working with underserved populations. She sees Universal Design as a way to make healthcare more accessible by using the plain language in health-related communication.

She said, “I think it’s super important to draw attention to what needs to be done to keep your body healthy. The Wellness Wednesdays that our team does, I think that those are really awesome… they’re always really informative, and teaching people about their health in a way that’s understandable to them is the most important thing.”

Ellie went on to describe how this approach will apply to her work:

As a future provider, what I want to do for my patients is to teach them about their health so that they can take control of their own health and be educated and empowered in their own bodies… I’d rather every patient be a part of the conversation and make sure they really understand what’s going on with their body and how we’re planning to help it get better. And I think Universal Design is a big part of that… because everyone has different backgrounds and different health, and everyone should be able to have the ability to understand what’s going on with their body… I think I’ll have a unique perspective going into healthcare fields with this Universal Design background and really focusing on each patient as an individual.

While shadowing healthcare professionals, Ellie noticed how important work is, for people with and without disabilities.She said, “When we take that opportunity away from people with disabilities, I feel like it kind of isolates them from society in a way.”

To support giving people that opportunity, Ellie is helping with fundraising and promotion for a nonprofit called Gerry’s Café in her hometown of Arlington Heights, Illinois.The café will employ young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

During high school in Illinois, Ellie worked with people with disabilities in a career life skills program. She said, “I just loved it and it was the best part of my day, every day… I really love talking to them. It was just like an instant connection… and then I just never stopped from there… I still have my students FaceTime me all the time.”

Ellie’s research assistantship at HDI and her studies in Universal Design are a way to continue what she started in high school. “I’m really grateful to be a part of the women’s health team… and I’m really excited to see where that project goes,” she said. “I’m really glad I found this, and it was totally by chance that I even heard of it, so I’m really excited to keep going.”

For more information on HDI’s Universal Design Certificate, click this link:

Article written by Amanda Corbin.

KentuckyWorks Presents “Delivering on the Promise of Employment First for Students with Significant Disabilities

HDI in collaboration with the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation announce Delivering on the Promise of Employment First for Students with Significant Disabilities, a four-part webinar series designed to support Kentucky school districts in their efforts to create meaningful work experiences leading to competitive integrated employment for students with significant disabilities. The webinar series will present learning from work with schools, employers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, parents and families, and will include tools and processes to support students with significant disabilities in obtaining competitive integrated employment. Each webinar will be one (1) hour and will begin at 4:00pm EST/ 3:00pm CST.

Register for each session at the links provided below:
January 20, 2021 | Charting a Course Toward Improved Outcomes |
February 3, 2021 | Student Engagement |
February 17, 2021 | Family Engagement |
March 3, 2021 | Employer Engagement |

Questions? Contact

Virtual Retreat

HDI receives Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Grant

A team of HDI staff including Dr. Chithra Adams, Jason Jones, Lindsey Mullis and Abby Marsh have received $50,000 through Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s 2020 COVID-19 Quality of Life grants program, funded through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living. Their proposal, Recharging Resiliency Together-Virtual Retreat will help people with paralysis recharge their resilience and provide the necessary connections and supports that are needed to navigate in a COVID-19 environment.

This series of virtual retreats will be accompanied by three follow up group calls to build upon the skills learned during the retreat and to build a tightknit group of peers (pods) who are supportive of one another. Each session in the retreat will be universally designed, accessible and have expert presentation followed by a group activity. The purpose of the group activity is to participate in real time sense-making about how strategies presented can be used presently or in the future.

Contact for more information.