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LEND students in class.The USM LEND Program is part of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program network that provides long-term, graduate level interdisciplinary training as well as interdisciplinary services and care. The purpose of the USM LEND Training Program is to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents with disabilities. This is accomplished by preparing trainees from diverse professional disciplines to assume leadership roles in their respective fields. LEND provides faculty from a wide range of disciplines to provide trainees with interdisciplinary training and services. 

The USM LEND Program collaborates with the Arkansas LEND Programs at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to share information and resources and address national issues of importance to children with special health care needs and their families.

For more information, contact:
Dr. Jerry R. Alliston
Telephone:  601.266.5163
E-mail: jerry.allistonFREEMississippi

STEP UP to Leadership Advisory Council

The STEP UP Advisory Council is composed of youth and young adults with and without disabilities.  Council members serve as leaders within their schools, colleges/universities and communities. The Council focuses on issues facing all young people including leadership, self-advocacy, transition, health care, education, employment, and recreation.

The STEP UP Advisory Council is a subcommittee of the overall Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) Advisory Council known as the Community Partnership Advisory Council (CPAC). Advisory members give input on current and potential IDS programs focused on meeting the needs of youth and young adults with disabilities. Anyone is invited to apply to be on the council because everyone has a voice.

I want to join! Where do I start? To apply, complete the STEP UP Profile form. For more information, contact Scott Mullins at: Scott.MullinsFREEMississippi 601.266.6129, 1.888.671.0051.

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Be Involved


  • What does STEP UP mean?
    • STEP UP stands for: Starting Today Empowering Peers through Uniting and Participating
  • What does STEP UP do?
    • STEP UP promotes leadership abilities and self-advocacy by allowing members to guide and lead themselves.  
  • The following are STEP UP principles . . . 
    • STEP UP officers lead all meetings.
    • STEP UP has fun together as a group.
    • STEP UP focused on the lack of meaningful activities after high school.  
    • STEP UP has a monthly fun day/night, a monthly service event and other recreation events throughout the year.
    • STEP UP promotes inclusion.
    • STEP UP includes members with and without disabilities.
  • Who can join STEP UP?




Job Accommodation Network

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. Working toward practical solutions that benefit both employer and employee, JAN helps people with disabilities enhance their employability, and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace. 

U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) recognizes the need for a national policy to ensure that people with disabilities are fully integrated into the 21st Century workforce. It provides national leadership by developing and influencing disability employment-related policies and practices affecting an increase in the employment of people with disabilities.

U.S. Office of Personnel Management

This site helps individuals with or without disabilities better understand how to hire and retain people with disabilities. Specifically, it helps users understand federal disability hiring programs, learn about gaining access to reasonable accommodation in the Federal work place when appropriate, and various other resources related to the employment of people with disabilities.

Workforce Investment Network (WIN) Job Centers

WIN Job Centers in Mississippi assist people of all ages in locating and preparing for employment opportunities. 


Being a Healthy Adult: How to Advocate for your Health and Health Care

This free resource provides an overview of health and health advocacy. It includes topics such as communicating, asking questions, and making healthy lifestyle choices, as well as learning activities for the reader. The booklet can be downloaded from the website.

Does it Run In the Family

This advocacy health tool helps create personalized booklets to start conversations about family health history. Through these customized booklets, information is provided about individual’s risks’ for specific diseases, as well as information to help healthcare providers diagnose conditions.

Kids Health-For Teens Section

The teen health section of Kids provides information on health related issues for teens and young adults. 

National Center on Physical Activity and Disability

The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability provides information and resources to assist individuals with and without disabilities in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 


Academics, Campus life, Community involvement, Employment opportunities, Socialization, Self-Awareness (ACCESS) at Mississippi State University (MSU)

The MSU ACCESS program is an inclusive and comprehensive plan to promote the successful transition of students with intellectual disabilities into higher education. The MSU ACCESS program serves students by providing individual support and services for the academic and social inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities in academic courses, extracurricular activities, and other aspects of the institution of higher education’s regular postsecondary programming.  It is the first postsecondary program in the state of Mississippi for students with intellectual disabilities.

College Navigator

College Navigator is a free information tool on nearly 7,000 postsecondary institutions in the United States. 

Rise Up: Mississippi Postsecondary Website

Rise Up has tips and tools needed to prepare and plan for college. The website helps users research public university, private college and community college options in Mississippi and choose the one that is right for them. It also provides information on financial aid, scholarships, and careers.

Think College

Think has information and links for youth with disabilities interested in learning more about attending college.

TurboTax Recent College Guides

TurboTax provide several resources for student entering higher education.  Information is available on deductions, tax credits, the IRS Tuition Statement and how to claim Pell Grant on your taxes.

We Connect Now

This website was created to serve college students with disabilities. It was developed in an effort to connect and integrate college students with disabilities as a virtual community with a voice on important issues. It has been used as a resource by institutions of higher learning and has been linked to by colleges, universities, and groups serving people with disabilities in 50 states and at least nine foreign countries. 


Technology Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC through the University of Southern Mississippi includes a range of programs that include evaluation, consultation and training in use of assistive technology to enhance education and participation. TLC’s programs are designed to improve learning and living for people with disabilities of all ages. Improved quality of life is the fundamental goal of all programs at TLC and the Institute for Disability Studies. TLC offers various adapted recreational programs and equipment lending for fishing, tennis, golf, bowling, basketball, pottery, kayaking, table tennis, and swimming. 

Metro Area Community Empowerment (MACE)

MACE assists individuals with Spinal cord injuries (SCI) reach their maximum level of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual function through fitness and sports. 



The official website of AmeriCorps provides information on volunteering with communities across the country while receiving benefits such as money for college.

The Corporation for National and Community Service

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that was formed to engage Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service to meet community needs. Each year, more than 1.5 million individuals help meet local needs through a wide array of service opportunities. These include projects in education, the environment, public safety, homeland security, and other critical areas through the Corporation’s programs.

Volunteer Mississippi

Volunteer Mississippi seeks to engage and support Mississippians of all ages and backgrounds in service to their communities. MCVS coordinates Learn & Serve America programs with the Mississippi Department of Education and coordinates VISTA and National Senior Service Corps programs with the Mississippi Office of the Corporation for National Service. Disability inclusion information is available for all national service programs. 



e-Buddies is an email friendship program for people with and without cognitive disabilities (age 12 & up). e-Buddies is an e-mail pen pal program that pairs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in one-to-one e-mail friendships with peer volunteers who do not have intellectual or developmental disabilities.  People are matched on age, gender, and common interests. The site is free for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and anyone under the age of 18.

Guideposts for Success for Youth

Guideposts for Success assists youth with disabilities in developing individualized plans for education and employment and service strategies as required by the Workforce Investment Act. 

National Youth Leadership Network (NYLN)

NYLN is a youth-led organization. They work to build power among people with disabilities between the ages of 16- 28 years old. The NYLN promotes youth leadership development, values inclusion, interdependent support systems, and disability pride, works to create access to the resources youth need to be leaders, supports work being done by youth activists with disabilities on the local level, trains youth with disabilities, and connects youth leaders with opportunities to serve and be active members of their communities.

Transition Coalition

Transition Coalition provides online information, support, and professional development on topics focusing on the transition from school to adult life for individuals with disabilities. 


Youthhood assists youth as they explore their community and build a future.  Resources and information are provided to help plan for college, work, and future aspirations.  


Stop Bullying

This website defines bullying, the role kids plays in bullying, and ways to prevent bullying. It also offers risk factors and ways to respond to bullying.

Bullying and Youth with Disabilities and Special Health Needs

This site provides a detailed description of why children with disabilities have a higher risk of getting bullied. It provides ways to create a safe environment for those with disabilities and special health needs, while explaining the federal civil rights laws for the victim.

Bullying and Harassment of Students with Disabilities

The Top 10 facts parents, educators and students need to know about bullying are presented at this site.

Federal Laws

At present, no federal law directly addresses bullying. In some cases, bullying overlaps with discriminatory harassment which is covered under federal civil rights laws enforced by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). No matter what label is used (e.g., bullying, hazing, teasing), schools are obligated by these laws to address certain conduct.


PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center lists stories from individuals about bullying. You can submit a video, story, poem, artwork, or audio clip expressing how you feel about bullying, how you think it affects students and schools, what you have done to prevent bullying, or what others can do to prevent bullying.

The Bully Project

The BULLY Project is the social action campaign inspired by the award-winning film BULLY. Their goal is to reach 10 million kids or more, causing a tipping point that ends bullying in America. They provide free resources for educators, parents, and students. You can also find resources for how to host a screening of the film in your school or community.

NO BULL Challenge

NO BULL's annual campaign, national education conference, video-rich education resources, global video contest, and awards show impacts millions of teens every year by spreading awareness about anti-bullying and digital responsibility through the creation of short film and public service announcements as a platform for change.

Not In Our Town / School

On, you will find over 100+ short films to view and discuss with your community, more than 50 school films with accompanying lesson plans and activity guides, and sample materials from towns who have stood up-and worked to prevent hate and intolerance. Special collections include what to do when a hate group comes to town, how to address hate on your campus, and how to start an anti-bullying campaign.

RISE To The Top! Southern Miss 

An Inclusive Postsecondary Education Program at The University of Southern Mississippi

The Reaching, Including, Supporting and Educating (RISE) To the Top! is an inclusive postsecondary education program for university students with intellectual disabilities at the Hattiesburg Campus of The University of Southern Mississippi. In collaboration with the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development, the RISE program offers 

  • Person-Centered Planning
  • Full University Student Experiences
  • Inclusive classes
  • Employment Internships
  • Service Learning Opportunities
  • Peer Mentoring Services
  • Independent Living Skills Training
  • Pre-Employment Training Experience
  • Participation in Student Activities
  • And much more… 
Reaching Including Supporting Educating To The Top


RISE To The Top! Tuition & Program Costs
*Costs are subject to change & do not include materials or other required expenses for a college student. 

RISE To The Top! Program Fee $3,500 per semester

Application Fee
*One-time fee once accepted into the program

Academic Tuition $397 per credit hour/semester
Student Activities Fee $1.67 per credit hour/semester
Capital Improvement Fee $2.92 per credit hour/semester

*Pending approval. Contact for more information.

$3,897 per semester

Meal Plan
*If you live on campus, you will be required to purchase a meal plan. If you commute to campus, meal plans are optional.

$2,070-$2,350 per semester

Parking Pass
*If student drives self to campus

$162 per academic year

Books/Eagle Direct Textbooks
*You must choose to opt in or opt out of Eagle Direct Textbook Program. More information on Eagle Direct Textbook Program will be provided at orientation if accepted into the program. 

$20 per credit hour
Subject to Course Requirement



For more information, contact:

Dr.%20Jerry%20R.%20Alliston or Danielle%20Parks%2C%20LMSW%C2%A0
Telephone:  601.266.5163
Email: jerry.allistonFREEMississippi or 

RISE Flyer


Institute for Disability Studies Interdisciplinary Studies and Pro Development


Community Service

Chit Chat Thursday with TaylorCCTwT is a weekly video series highlighting self-advocacy activities, services and successes in Mississippi hosted by Self-Advocate Taylor Carley. Each video explores a new topic with a featured guest on the topic.

It all started with the question, “How do I spread self-advocacy awareness throughout my state?” The idea to use video was inspired by “Tuesdays with Liz”, which is a weekly national YouTube video series that highlights current issues in disability policy and hosted by Liz Weintraub, a long-time disability advocate.  For Chit Chat, the focus changed to self-advocacy efforts in Mississippi and around the nation.  If you want to be a part of a future episode or have someone to recommend, please e-mail Taylor Carley about your topic. Please subscribe to the YouTube Channel titled Chit Chat Thursday with Taylor.

If you would like to be featured in an episode, contact:
Taylor Carley, Self-Advocacy Coordinator


Chit Chat Thursday with Taylor

Visit the Chit Chat Thursday with Taylor YouTube Channel
and please like and subscribe to get notified of all new content!



Please like the Chit Chat Thursday with Taylor Facebook page.

And Subscribe to the YouTube Channel.


TRIAD AmeriCorpsTraining, Resources and Information for the Advancement of Disability (TRIAD) Service AmeriCorps is an inclusive service program through the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service.

AmeriCorps at the Capitol

The TRIAD AmeriCorps program focuses on health education and also general community service.  The health education is provided to middle and high school students with disabilities in the partnering school districts of Forrest, Lamar, Harrison, and Hancock Counties.

The members, individuals with and without disabilities, use the HealthMatters curriculum along with the following principles of:

  • promoting choice, self-determination, self-efficacy, self-advocacy, rights, and responsibilities,
  • learning practical exercise routines and where to exercise,
  • identifying foods that make up a well-balanced diet,
  • improving self-advocacy skills to promote good choices in staying healthy,
  • promoting stress management techniques, 
  • identifying individual social and recreational goals. 

AmeriCorps on the beach

The TRIAD AmeriCorps members serve their community by providing service to local non-profits (animal shelters, food pantries, community centers, donations, and more), parks and beach beautification projects, local nursing and veterans homes, Special Olympics events, and various recreational opportunities.   

The TRIAD AmeriCorps program offers its members and volunteers with training experiences and opportunities including:

  • professional development,
  • life skills,
  • team building,
  • stress management,
  • disability etiquette/inclusive diversity,
  • financial literacy,
  • healthy relationships (boundaries, communication, safety),
  • and much more.

- Want to give back to your community?
- Help paying for college or student loans?
- Want to receive a monthly living stipend?

Apply to AmeriCorps Now

Step by step guide on how to apply


AmeriCorps on the Gulf Coast

For Information Contact:
Scott Mullins, Program Coordinator




 Transition of Teens to Adult Life (ToTAL)The Transition of Teens to Adult Life (ToTAL) program was established to assist with the pre-employment needs of youth and young adults with disabilities ages 14-21.  Through the creation of a center located on the Hattiesburg Campus of The University of Southern Mississippi, ToTAL serves as a counseling, work-based training and internship site. A total of 300 students with disabilities will participate in job exploration counseling and workforce readiness training with 30 of these students having a paid internship experience.  

These services include:

  • Job Exploration Counseling: Provided through weekly training and participants learn about various career opportunities based on their interests and strengths.
  • Workforce Readiness Training: Provided through community based events and school/university-based transition events.
  • Work Experiences/Internships: Provided through community-based employment experiences that extend beyond the classroom/training setting and based on each participant’s interests and strengths.

Apply for the ToTAL program now!

Working at the Payne Center Working in industry Working in AV production
Working in a nursery Shoe repair

Working at Fresh


ToTAL Contacts

Dr. Jerry R. Alliston


Telephone: 601.266.5959

Email: jerry.allistonFREEMississippi


Dr. Leslie Lavergne

Transition Navigator

Telephone: 601.266.6225

Email: leslie.lavergneFREEMississippi

Contact Us

Institute for Disability Studies
118 College Drive #5163
Hattiesburg, MS 39406

Hattiesburg Campus
Bond Hall 4th Floor

Email: IDS%20Administration

Phone: 601.266.5163
or 800.671.0051

If you are hearing impaired, please use 711 for the free TTY-Based Telecommunications Relay Service.

Institute for Disability Studies
730 East Beach Blvd
Long Beach, MS 39560

Gulf Park Campus

Email: IDS%20Administration

Phone: 228.214.3400

If you are hearing impaired, please use 711 for the free TTY-Based Telecommunications Relay Service.

Institute for Disability Studies
3825 Ridgewood Road
Jackson, MS 39211

IHL Building

Email: IDS%20Administration

Phone: 601.266-6177

If you are hearing impaired, please use 711 for the free TTY-Based Telecommunications Relay Service.


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