Newswise – Are you passionate about improving the lives of people with autism and people with other neurodevelopmental disorders? If so, you might be interested in the UC Davis MIND Institute LEND training program, which is currently recruiting for the year 2022-2023.
TO LEND, or Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities, trains future leaders in the field. It brings together family members, self-advocates, community members, researchers and clinicians, who learn from experts and from each other.
The program is free for interns and is funded by the federal government Administration of health resources and services Office of Maternal and Child Health. It is open to a wide range of people.
“I think a lot of times when people hear about this program they think, ‘Oh, the MIND Institute is just for academics,’ but it really isn’t,” Kelly Heung said. , program manager for LEND. “We greatly value the expertise of family members, self-advocates and disability advocates as well as researchers and clinicians.”
The strength of interdisciplinary collaboration
The MIND Institute’s Northern California LEND program currently has 34 trainees from 11 disciplines. It is rooted in interdisciplinary links.
“The strength of our program lies in the collaboration and the multiple disciplines represented. Our interns really learn from each other,” Heung said.
Mid-term intern Katharine Harlan Owens agrees wholeheartedly. She focuses on supporting parents as they navigate services and support after a diagnosis. She is also a parent advocate.
“I believe so much in collaborating and sharing resources and information and that’s really what LEND is,” Owens said. “It allows us to work even better together. The stronger we feel as leaders – not just parents, but truly trained to be leaders – it will help everyone.
The MIND Institute is also a partner of Sacramento State University broaden the disciplines offered to trainees. Sacramento State Teacher Katrin Mattern Baxter is the Discipline Director of LEND Physiotherapy.
“We have additional discipline directors from physiotherapy, special education and speech language pathology, which really adds to LEND’s interdisciplinary expertise. Interns have access to our clinics and programs in Sacramento State, which enhances interdisciplinary opportunities for LEND interns in these additional areas,” Mattern-Baxter explained.
A year full of action
LEND is designed to be flexible and there are options for interns depending on how much time they can commit. Long-term trainees complete a total of 300 hours of training or more, while mid-term trainees complete 40 to 299 hours of training. Long-term trainees receive a stipend.
All interns have access to leadership seminars, clinical and community placement opportunities, and a mentor. They also have the opportunity to carry out a research project on leadership. They learn the latest evidence-based practices from experts in the field, gain hands-on experience in a clinical setting, and work with families and other professionals in the community. Improving advocacy skills is also an important goal. This includes learning about the legislative process and the opportunity to meet legislators.
“LEND’s goal is to fill gaps in training for leaders, families, and professionals so that we have more providers who can better serve people with developmental disabilities,” Heung explained.
A Unique Home in Northern California
The MIND Institute’s LEND program is one of 60 LEND sites across the country. It is one of four in California and the only one in the northern part of the state.
Due to its geographical location, it covers a large geographical area and a large rural population. This includes many people who cannot easily access services.
“Our Northern California LEND is really about better serving the underrepresented population, which includes underresourced racial and ethnic minorities and English language learners,” Heung explained.
This is a major focus for current long-term LEND intern Viviana Barnwell, whose leadership position is rooted in diversity, equity and inclusion.
“As a society, we tend to forget that when someone has a disability, they may also be part of a minority group,” Barnwell said. “These are the families I work with – immigrants and English learners. Sometimes we forget about intersectionality and the importance of teaching everyone, including professionals, about the difficulties these groups have in navigating systems.
Barnwell also focuses on education and is working on a classroom equality project.
LEND has been largely sidelined for the past two years due to COVID, but the hope is to have a hybrid model in place when the next training year begins in September. Applications are due March 31. For more information, visit the LEND website or email [email protected].