Hispanic Heritage Month written in yellow, orange, and white on a navy blue background with colorful triangles as a border

HDI celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

17 October, 2022 | Written by Delaney Wickert

Upon the conclusion of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th—October 15th), the Human Development Institute would like to recognize and share the achievements and presence of Hispanic and Latinx Americans.

The United States is home to more than 5 million Hispanic or Latinx Americans that have a disability (respectability.org). Through Hispanic Heritage Month, it is important to recognize challenges faced by Latinx with disabilities.

Alejandra Tristan is a First Generation American who shares her experience with her physical disability in a multicultural household. In Alejandra’s article “Becoming Proud of My Disabled Identity as a First-Generation American”, she describes the challenges she faced growing up as she was taught to be prideful of being a part of both the Mexican and American communities, but had to learn how to be proud of being a part of the disabled community. She describes that not only did she have to educate herself on her disability in one language, but two languages in order to communicate and express her needs to family and friends in both Spanish and English.

Using the same elements of pride and advocacy she holds in being Latinx American, Alejandra learned to communicate her needs and advocate herself while taking pride in being a person with a disability. Alejandra was able to show its possible to navigate being a person with a disability while embracing her multicultural roots by breaking through barriers, like dancing at her Quinceañera with a physical disability. Alejandra advocates for the disabled community in both languages she speaks, and works to advocate and break the negative stigma regarding the term “disabled.”

To learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month, visit: www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov

To learn more about Latinx people with disabilities, visit:

Works Cited

Congress, T. L. of, Administration, N. A. and R., Humanities, N. E. for the, Art, N. G. of, Service, N. P., Institution, U. S. S., & Museum, U. S. H. M. (n.d.). National Hispanic American Heritage month 2022. National Hispanic American Heritage Month 2022. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/

Santo, S. (2020, September 26). Highlighting latinx people with disabilities in honor of Hispanic Heritage month. Respect Ability. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from www.respectability.org/2020/09/hispanic-heritage-month-2020/

Tristan, A. (2021, September 20). Becoming proud of my disabled identity as a first-generation American. Respect Ability. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from www.respectability.org/2021/09/alejandra-tristan-hispanic-heritage/

LEND Trainee Spotlight: Julie Caudill-Clark. She has long, ginger hair tied back and bright, green eyes. She is wearing a navy floral top and headphones, smiling for the photograph.

KYLEND Trainee Spotlight: Julie Caudill-Clark

Julie Caudill-Clark, a doctoral student in Eastern Kentucky University’s Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Program, is a current LEND Trainee. Her current studies focus on Special Education and she is completing requirements to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). She also holds a master’s degree from Roosevelt University in Teacher Leadership and Special Education. 

In her teaching positions, she has taught children with Autism at the middle and high school levels, earning her an Illinois Highly Qualified Certification in Secondary Education for grades 6-12 in English, Math, Social Sciences, and Special Education. She also holds a Kentucky Teaching Certification for these areas and is certified in ages 3-21 as a Special Education Teacher. 

Currently serving as Director of Disability Services and Testing for Hazard Community and Technical College, she supports all students with disabilities at all campuses. She determines accommodations students can use in classrooms. 

Also serving as Chair for the Disability Services Workgroup for Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), she works with other Disability Service Providers to develop the Disability Services Handbook. Additionally, her and her team facilitate training and materials for Faculty and Staff guiding support provided to all students.

Julie serves on the Board for Kentucky AHEAD as the Chair for Membership. This organization provides training, networking and support to other Disability Service Professionals at the college level and allows us to improve services provided at Kentucky colleges and universities. 

Julie hopes to expand her knowledge and abilities while continuing work in Kentucky!

Julie is currently enrolled as a trainee in the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute’s (HDI) Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program. LEND is a five-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau in partnership with the University of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky University. 

These programs share the overall mission of improving the health of infants, children, and adolescents with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. LEND aims to increase the number of professionals with the knowledge and skills to provide evidence-based screening and diagnosis, as well as support to individuals and families.

Visit www.hdi.uky.edu/kylend to learn more. Contact the Kentucky LEND Project Director caroline.gooden@uky.edu with any questions or to schedule an informational session for your department and interested students!

Woman getting a bandage after shot

Southeast SuperHub Champions working to increase vaccine confidence 

Led by the Human Development Institute in partnership with Georgia State University, a coalition of advocates and community partners have taken on the important task of promoting vaccine confidence in the Southeast US. The COVID-19 Vaccine Information and Dissemination SuperHub for the Southeast region was organized with the goal to Increase vaccine access and uptake among the disability population in southeast region. As new variants of COVID-19 emerge, continuing the vaccine conversation is more important than ever.  

Barriers to vaccine uptake include hesitancy and access. Organizers of the Southeast SuperHub determined that members of the disability community can be the catalyst to increase the rate of vaccination among disabled people. Local Trusted Champions are in their communities discussing vaccine resources with those in their immediate circles in person and online. They are assisting with vaccine outreach and the dissemination of plain language resources developed by the Human Development Institute and Georgia State University. By having one-on-one conversations, Champions are helping to quell fears of the vaccine and answer questions with a personal approach. They are leveraging their status as trusted members of their communities to tailor the messaging to a local context.  

Champions are also breaking down barriers in vaccine access. The plain language resources disseminated by Local Trusted Champions are available in multiple languages, which are important as many members of the disability do not speak English as their first language. Additionally, champions have identified ways in which vaccine sites may not be accessible to wheelchair users, those who are deaf and hard of hearing, or who have limited vision.  

Local Trusted Champions are compensated for their efforts by a stipend and are asked to complete a Local Champion 101 training, as well as a course on Motivational Interviewing. They are also expected to track their data and report back to the SuperHub during monthly meetings. Recruitment of Local Champions is ongoing, and though the project will conclude on September 30, Champions’ efforts will make a lasting impact. 

For more information, contact Natasha.Collier@uky.edu.

b/w photo of infant with black hair

HDI to Host Prenatal Disability Education Summit

On May 13, 2022, the National Center for Prenatal and Postnatal Resources, housed at the UK Human Development Institute will host the Prenatal Disability Education Summit at the Residence Inn Baltimore at the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus. This event is sponsored by the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation (JPKF) and will bring together national medical, advocacy, bioethics, industry, and policy leaders to collaboratively identify current challenges and potential solutions in the ethical provision of prenatal screening for disabilities.

Leaders from five national obstetrics, genetics, and pediatrics organizations will meet alongside bioethics experts, industry representatives, academics in disability studies, and leaders from federal agencies and 12 national disability advocacy organizations representing multiple conditions that can be diagnosed prenatally. The event will be held in Baltimore at the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus.

JPKF Trustee, Alex Pender, says, “The Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation (JPKF) is thrilled to sponsor and be a part of the Prenatal Disability and Education Summit. For more than 75 years, JPKF has pushed for progress, inclusion, and respect for people with intellectual disabilities. The Foundation has helped inspire and advance a wave of landmark federal legislation providing support and programs for the disability community, including the Community Mental Health Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. This summit is an important step forward to advance the way in which women and families are given a medical diagnosis at the early stages of pregnancy and will be pivotal in how doctors care for the women and children these practices will impact most.”

Stephanie Meredith, the event organizer and the Director of the National Center for Prenatal and Postnatal Resources says this event will be the first of its kind to bring together such a diverse coalition of stakeholders to discuss strategies for making sure that patients undergoing prenatal screening get the support and information they need when learning about disabilities.

Meredith shares that, “Research shows that patients continue to struggle to get information about disabilities that meets their needs at that vulnerable moment when receiving prenatal screening results. They want to know about the medical issues and genetics, but they also want to know what life is like for people living with these conditions and their families. This is particularly vital because people with disabilities are part of a historically marginalized population, so we must make sure discussions about disabilities are based on accurate and up-to-date information without being clouded by stereotypes. And the stakes are high because patients can experience lasting trauma when they don’t receive the information and support that they need.”

Meredith adds, “As prenatal screening efforts increase, we are heading into a looming public health crisis of genetic information without a sufficient infrastructure for patient education and support. That means the work of this interdisciplinary team is essential to ensuring that all stakeholders are working together to meet the needs of vulnerable families and to provide clinicians accurate and up-to-date information and training about disabilities.”

The Summit will:

  • Assess the current state of education about disabilities for expectant parents undergoing prenatal screening.
  • Review collaborative accomplishments since the last Down Syndrome Consensus Meeting in 2008.
  • Establish collaborative goals in the areas of public policy, organizational policies/guidelines, research, and ethical practices for the next decade to ensure that families receive accurate, up-to-date, and balanced information, resources, healthcare, and support they need following a diagnosis or screening results and to help families and clinicians better understand a more up-to-date vision of people living with disabilities.
  • Discuss best practices for building relationships between the disability advocacy and medical communities and discuss strategies for the education and training of medical and genetics professionals to better understand current life outcomes for people with disabilities.
  • Produce a directory of stakeholders who want to continue to work collaboratively on disability education in the prenatal setting

The primary sponsor of the event is the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, and other vital sponsors include The National Parents First Call Center, a program of the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network, The National Down Syndrome Society, The Trisomy 18 Foundation, Sunflower Neonatology Associates, Case Western Department of Bioethics, and Genetic Support Foundation with support from the Kennedy Krieger Institute at the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus, and the Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities.

A group of high school campers sitting in UK Student Center

UK Human Development Institute Welcomes Kentucky High School Upperclassmen with Disabilities to Apply to its Summer Leadership Experience Camp 

The University of Kentucky Human Development Institute will host its Summer Leadership Experience camp for its sixth consecutive summer. The transitional experience camp, which will take place July 6-9, welcomes rising high school juniors and seniors with disabilities in Kentucky to apply. The camp, which is sponsored by Kentucky’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, offers both in-person and virtual options. The in-person camp is available to students who are current clients of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and the virtual camp is open to students who are not.  

According to Teresa Belluscio, Human Development Institute disability specialist and Summer Leadership Experience director, the camp is perfect for students who are planning to continue their education after high school, whether through a university, community college, internship, apprenticeship or other special program or training. The camp is designed to introduce the students to new experiences they can’t get at home, such as navigating a college campus and sharing space with a roommate, while also providing practical information sessions.  

The information sessions are available in-person to students, as well as virtually to parents and virtual campers. In previous summers, representatives from UK’s Disability Resource Center have come in for panel discussions, teaching students how to navigate disability resources in university settings and how to set up accommodations. In another information session, a representative from the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority came to talk to students about KEES money–scholarships available to all Kentucky students based on GPA and other metrics.  

“We want them to understand the financial piece, because most high school students really don’t,” Belluscio said. 

In a hands-on activity, campers are given a schedule of active UK courses and taken to the campus bookstore to track down the textbooks needed for each course. Students work together in small groups to locate each textbook and write down the books’ prices. Belluscio then leads a discussion on the various options for college textbooks–such as renting, buying used books and eBooks. Belluscio and camp staff help the students understand why you might choose one type of book over another depending on the course and your own needs. 

Students at the in-person camp stay in residence halls on UK’s campus and eat meals in a UK dining hall. The days are broken up with recreational activities, such as rock climbing at the Johnson Center. Evenings are filled with fun and motivational guest speakers. 

“A favorite is Cody–who is autistic, went to college, has a degree and built a business for himself as a magician,” Belluscio said. “He’s an all-time favorite. He did multiple sessions last year, from a magic show, to talking about living with autism, to how he built his business.” 

Campers are sent evaluations at the end of camp each summer. Cody, the magician, got the highest ratings last year. 

“So we know which sessions [the students] really liked and what they enjoyed,” Belluscio said. 

Applications for the Summer Leadership Experience are due May 15. The in-person experience is limited to 20 campers. For more information and to begin your application, click here

For more information, contact Teresa Belluscio at 859-257-1714 or teresa.belluscio@uky.edu

Written by: Court Cox