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Institute for Disability Studies Leaders to Promote Self-Advocacy in Kenya

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 11:02am | By: Van Arnold

The University of Southern Mississippi’s Institute for Disability Studies (IDS) has been awarded a mini-grant to increase self-advocacy awareness among youth and young adults with disabilities in Kenya.

The award is funded through the Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Disability Employment (PFP-IDE). PFP-IDE is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) in partnership with the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Humanity & Inclusion.

Nathan HattenThe mini-grant will help IDS facilitate in-person training for STEP UP-International. Two young adult leaders -- Taylor Carley, IDS’ Self-Advocacy Coordinator, and Nathan Hatten, an alumnus of several IDS Transition to Adulthood programs, have been selected to help lead this training.

Carley and Hatten will travel to Kenya and share their personal stories and promote self-advocacy and leadership skills for Kenyans with disabilities. Both are leaders in the Starting Today Empowering Peers through Uniting and Participating (STEP UP) Council which celebrated its 12th anniversary in January.

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.

CarleTaylor Carleyy notes, “I am excited about going to Africa and sharing my passion for disability equality. My personal quote is that disability is an ability, and I am like everyone else. I can’t wait to share how I am reaching my dreams and inspire youth there to do the same.”

Since 2017, the Professional Fellows Program has supported opportunities for mid-career professionals to participate in five-week intensive international fellowships at a university-based research and education center for disabilities in the U.S. The first year

focused on fellow areas connected to the Americans with Disability Act and all fellows since 2018 have focused on inclusive employment.

IDS was selected to host fellows from Kenya in both 2017 and 2018 and IDS’ Associate Director, Dr. Jerry R. Alliston, was selected as an outbound fellow to provide employment training and technical assistance in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya in November 2018. Since that time, IDS has continued providing assistance through on-line training and guidance.

“It has been a pleasure for us to assist our colleagues in Kenya to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities, specifically through the development of a self-advocacy group in Mombasa and plans to establish additional groups across Kenya” said Alliston.

Alliston, Carley and Hatten will collaborate with 2018 International Fellow Vincent Ogutu, a disability employment specialist in Nairobi, Kenya representing Cheshire Disability Services Kenya (CDSK). In addition, self-advocacy training will be coordinated through 2017 ADA Fellow Nuala Alibhai, the Learning Student Support Coordinator for junior and seniors at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa. During the training, Nathan plans to share his personal motto to “Never give up. Keep striving to do your best and work towards your goals.”

For more over 40 years, IDS has maintained its mission to “positively affect the lives of Mississippi citizens with developmental and other disabilities and their families across the lifespan and to work toward increasing their independence, productivity, and community inclusion.” To meet this mission, IDS concentrates its work in four emphasis areas: Early Childhood Inclusion and Education, Housing, Transition to Adulthood and Wellness.

To learn more about IDS, visit or call 601.266.5163.