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Human Development Institute

University Center for
Excellence in Disabilities

Child reading a book with teacher.

Latest Fund for Excellence Awards: August 2019

Published: August 15, 2019

The Human Development Institute (HDI) established the Fund for Excellence for the development of innovative programs, services or products to address the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, for which funding is not currently available. In the July, 2019 funding cycle, HDI awarded three Fund for Excellence projects:

  • Universally Designed Health Coaching Pilot with Danielle Augustin, Lindsey Mullis, and Morgan Turner
  • You Can Do So Many Things project with Caroline Gooden, Kathy Sheppard-Jones, and Brittany Granville
  • Disability in Public Health Training with Tony Lobianco and Donald Lollar

Project Title: Creating and Piloting an Inclusive Health Coaching Curriculum

Ms. Augustin’s effort will allow for the creation, pilot, and copyright of a fully inclusive health coaching curriculum which will be accessible to all individuals, regardless of ability or disability. Health coaching empowers individuals to make healthy lifestyle changes while still placing value in individuals’ autonomy and self-determination. Currently, no health coaching program exists in which the tools and strategies are accessible to individuals with disabilities and thus they cannot access this beneficial service.

This effort will consist of collaborative efforts between practicing health coaches across the state and the Health & Wellness Initiative at HDI. The expertise of these partners along with Ms. Augustin’s background as a certified health and wellness coach will allow for the creation of truly unique and inclusive product. Furthermore, the curriculum that is built through this collaboration will then be piloted by participants at New Vista (formally Bluegrass.org) and evaluated for accessibility.

Project Title: You Can Do So Many Things

This project will develop a children’s book to highlight diverse career options in the equine industry that will include a diverse array of people employed in those jobs. The book will highlight many career options that young children can consider, and will introduce a variety of breeds of horses. The theme of the book is to expand the possibilities for career options in the equine industry for a diverse population of children. The goals of the project are: 1. Celebrate diversity among young preschool children 2. Highlight diverse career options for children with disabilities in the equine industry 3. Highlight the diverse range of horses in the Bluegrass.

Project Title: Disability in Public Health Training

Dr.’s Tony LoBianco and Don Lollar will be investigating the extent to which graduate schools of Public Health include disability-specific content.  Previous studies have indicated that slight majorities of public health programs offered access to disability-related courses. However, this project will probe deeper in order to determine the way in which disability is being understood by different programs, as well as whether they are offered within the public health program itself or outsourced to other departments.

Persons with disabilities comprise approximately 20% of the U.S. population, and often have particular health care needs, several health risks as well as physical comorbidities. While public health programs often feature specializations in other sub-populations, we believe that it is likely that the disability population is not as well represented. We also will examine the extent that programming in this field utilizes elements of the social model of disability rather than simply treat disability as a thing to be prevented or cured.

Ms. Carolyn Akakpo, a doctoral candidate in Public Health, Epidemiology and a person with many years of experience in disability health services administration from the state of Ohio will join us for this project. Ms. Akakpo will use a pre-existing survey instrument to undertake a cross-sectional examination of all accredited schools of Public Health. We hope to promote the inclusion of quality disability programming in the public health field and highlight those programs that are doing the best work in this area.