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Human Development Institute

University Center for
Excellence in Disabilities

Photo of Comic book featuring 4 youth with disabilities and a superhero.

Available Now! Comic Book Featuring People with Disabilities Achieving Health Goals

Published: June 18, 2019

As a way to help motivate and inspire people, I created the comic book DDMC Man, in which the hero has Ataxia, much like me to show that not all heroes have to have superpowers, but that a strong will and desire can defeat any stumbling block.” —Michael Carter, DDMC Man Creator

Disability Don’t Mean Can’t #2: Busting Down Barriers is a comic about real people overcoming real obstacles. This story shows that no matter the barrier, we can become empowered to achieve our health goals. This comic book is easy to read in a fun format, and features four real youth with disabilities. They learn that through being a strong self-advocate or asking/looking for resources and support they can successfully achieve their goals.Available Now! Comic Book Featuring People with Disabilities Achieving Health GoalsRead More…



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HDI 50th Anniversary Spotlight on Stephanie Meredith

Published:

What I love most about HDI is the culture cultivated by Dr. Harold Kleinert and nourished by so many other great leaders here—to be kind and nurture partnerships while also taking a stand and sometimes taking risks to make sure we are addressing the most pressing needs for people with disabilities and their families. I will forever be grateful to Harold and HDI for taking a risk and being willing to support our prenatal project and give it a home because it was the right thing to do … even when we had almost no funding. That kind of vision and commitment to helping families is rare and wonderful in an organization as expansive as HDI.   —Stephanie Meredith, Information Services Director, KentuckyWorks Staff, and Program Director HDI National Center for Prenatal and Postnatal Resources

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Man smiling at camera, Mark Leach

HDI 50th Anniversary Spotlight on Mark Leach

Published: June 14, 2019

Being university-based, HDI has a credibility with policymakers and elected officials that is needed. So often, much of the work done on behalf of those with disabilities is by non-profits, which unfairly are not given the same amount of respect. HDI’s gravitas helps ensure the significance of programs that include those with disabilities is understood and maintained with those in positions of influence. —Mark Leach, Bioethics Specialist, HDI National Center for Prenatal and Postnatal Resources

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Harold Kleinert with white hair and beard smiling at the camera wearing a pink shirt and blue tie.

HDI 50th Anniversary Spotlight on Harold Kleinert

Published: June 5, 2019

I was absolutely blessed to have had the opportunity to work at HDI.  I cannot imagine a better organizational mission than that of HDI for what I had hoped for my own career  – to work with leaders in the field at both the state and national levels; to partner with families, self-advocates, teachers, and other professionals on the front lines of quality services;  and to have had the chance to have taught a wonderful set of students here at UK. —Harold Kleinert, HDI Director Emeritus

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HDI 50th Anniversary Spotlight on Christy Leaver

Published: May 31, 2019

HDI provided stability to me through several rough life transitions as a single parent and student. Exposure to mentors, exposure to diversity, and the development of long-term friendships have had a significant impact on my life. —Christy Leaver, LCSW, Former HDI Research Assistant and Certificate Student

How did you come to know HDI? 

I was a research assistant at HDI throughout my graduate school experience at UK. 
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HDI 50th Anniversary Spotlight on Christina Espinosa Bard

Published: May 28, 2019

To me, HDI is my place, my dream job. I hope to stay with HDI for the duration of my career. I feel so blessed and lucky to be a part of HDI, and to get to do work that I love, that I continue to learn from, and that can make a difference individually and systemically. —Christina Espinosa Bard, MRC, CRC, HDI Community Education Director

How did you come to know HDI? 

Dr. Sheppard-Jones was adjunct faculty in my Master’s program, Rehabilitation Counseling.   HDI 50th Anniversary Spotlight on Christina Espinosa BardRead More…



Computer with HDI Learning on it

HDI Reaches Notable Milestone with 100 Online Courses!

Published: May 20, 2019

HDI has reached a notable milestone of 100 online courses, including 4 in development! HDI launched online learning initiative for early childhood in 2004 with the 6-hour ECOOL training for early childhood and education providers. HDI’s early education online courses began to grow rapidly in 2012 to include online courses about ways to provide safe and inclusive environments for all children. By 2014, online learning started to be utilized for health issues and for K12 education in 2015. Now, the courses cover an array of topics, including early childhood education (31), K12 Special Education (24), training for early care and education trainers (22), medical training (11), transition education (7), training for children’s libraries (3), health education initiatives (1), and departmental education (1). Check out all the courses in our Online Learning Center!

The HDI Learning Center has grown as our staff have seen the potential for reaching a wider audience. Our online courses use innovative and non-traditional assessment of learner knowledge, using active learning principles. In addition, we strive to provide the most accessible training, using universal design principles and ensuring content can be accessed across multiple devices and browsers. —Patti Singleton, Professional Learning CoordinatorHDI Reaches Notable Milestone with 100 Online Courses!Read More…



Smiling Woman with short gray hair and glasses

HDI 50th Anniversary Spotlight on Beth Harrison

Published: May 18, 2019

HDI was my work family for 28 years. It means a lot to me. I am proud to tell people that I work/worked with HDI. HDI means innovation; cutting edge; an umbrella of excellence for all aspects of disability; a “think outside the box” group of people working for the greater common good. —Beth Harrison, Retired Principal Investigator for SHEP and other transition projects

How did you come to know HDI? 

I was lucky to get a proposal funded that the Kentucky Department of Education wanted to partner with HDI on.

How long were you with HDI and what was your role? 

A long time! From 1990 through 2019, I’ve held various roles at HDI with the main focus being on transition of youth from school to community.
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Teresa Belluscio, Nicholas Breiner, and Candy Rollins

Anderson County High School students awarded trips to HDI Summer Leadership Camp

Published: May 8, 2019

Two Anderson County High School students have been awarded trips to the HDI Summer Leadership Camp at the University of Kentucky. The Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative (CKEC) recently received an HDI grant for (RITT’s) Regional Transition Teams to develop trainings or avenues for students with disabilities to transition beyond high school. CKEC Transition Specialists Tara Wells and Candy Rollins (pictured on the right) set up a student contest which awarded students a summer camp to Sullican or the HDI Summer Leadership Camp. Seen here are Candy and Teresa Belluscio, Camp Director (pictured on the left) awarding the two students with the certificate of participation for the summer camp and a UK camp tee-shirt!Anderson County High School students awarded trips to HDI Summer Leadership CampRead More…



Laura Lamminen, smiling woman with mid-length brown hair

HDI 50th Anniversary Spotlight on Laura Lamminen

Published: May 3, 2019

HDI is a very special place. I feel so fortunate to have worked in such a healthy environment of professionals. —Laura Lamminen, Former HDI Graduate Certificate Student and Research Assistant

How did you come to know HDI? 

As a student at UK, I learned about the center from Dr. Kleinert, who taught one of my classes in Special Education. 

How long were you with HDI and what was your role? 

I was with HDI for three years; first as a research assistant for the Mid-South Regional Resource Center, and in my last year, I served on the TNSIG grant working under Jocelyn Cooledge. HDI 50th Anniversary Spotlight on Laura LamminenRead More…