Two OSU professors partner to bring awareness of research and programs through the Institute for Developmental Disabilities
Individuals with developmental disabilities and their families are receiving support for improved quality of life through the newly formed Institute for Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Oklahoma State University.
What began in 2013 as a contract with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services – Developmental Disabilities Services to collect the National Core Indicator data for Oklahoma quickly expanded to numerous research projects bringing in over $2 million in funding. Each subsequent project was united by a common theme - fostering families and communities where individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities experience true belonging and enhanced quality of life for all.
“Collectively, the work of the Institute for Developmental Disabilities is focused on creating an environment where everyone is not only physically present, but is seen, heard, and valued as a full member within a community,” said Dr. Jennifer Jones, associate professor of human development and family science and co-director of the Institute for Developmental Disabilities.
While research and community programs have been ongoing for many years, the Institute for Developmental Disabilities streamlines current scholarly efforts, creating a central, organizing entity. In addition, the Institute will provide better visibility and opportunities for collaboration across campus and around the nation and will offer a graduate certificate in Developmetnal Disabilities.
“Our goal is to bring together all of the projects enhancing quality of life for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families,” said Dr. Kami Gallus, associate professor of human development and family science and co-director of the Institute for Developmental Disabilities.
The new Instititue for Developmental Disabilities unifies many community outreach programs and classes already led by Gallus and Jones. For example, the UNITE family training contract with the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority trains individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and families to promote self-awareness and increase self-advocacy and self-determination. The “Let’s Take a Walk” program partners undergraduate students enrolled in a course taught by Jones with individuals with developmental disabilities for exercise and social opportunities.
In March, Gallus and Jones and other national and international leaders will present at the annual Chautauqua Conference on Family Resilience hosted by the Center for Family Resilience with the theme, “Engaging Communities to Foster Belonging for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Families.”
Built on the core belief disability is a natural part of human diversity and everyone benefits from inclusion, Gallus and Jones hope to make lasting change through their work of the Institute.
“This Institute is a natural fit for our goals as a land-grant institution,” Gallus said. “We are providing learning opportunities, expanding those through research and putting it back into the community through service.”
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