This blog is on topics of interest to early career professionals who work with people with disabilities. Blog contributors have diverse perspectives on leadership, professional development, and success in changing systems to better serve people with disabilities and their families. For more information on Early Career Professionals, check out the website: www.aucd.org/ecp

24 August, 2010

“I want to go some place where I can marvel at something.” - Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Last week, Corina concluded her blog post with “After all, the journey is more fun than the destination!” How I resonate with her sentiments on lifelong learning and adventures that await you at each crossroad of your life!

In Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, she travels around the world to rediscover herself. While my road trip in the AUCD network is not quite as glamorous, it is filled with inspirational mentors, unforeseen obstacles, unchartered waters, unusual reinvention, and plenty of laughter. I marveled at my stops in the West Virginia UCEDD, Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) one of two MA UCEDD, the LEND Program at ICI Children’s Hospital of Boston and the AUCD Central Office. Each place has allowed me to develop and to fuel my passion in assistive technology, national and community service, interdisciplinary leadership training, public health and disabilities, and above all serving and working with individuals with disabilities of all ages for community integration and inclusion.

Presently, the journey has taken me to the Maternal Child Health Bureau (MCHB) at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) where I have worked on grant guidance development, social media strategy implementation, and many Bureau wide activities. As soon as I joined MCHB, I was quickly immersed in Life Course Theory literature and the various efforts of the Bureau to engage experts in the field for the development of a new five year strategic plan based on this theoretical framework. Among what I have read and learned, I have come to embrace the Life Course framework in its emphasis of the cumulative impact of children developing within families, families existing within a community, and the community embedding within the larger society. Much of the essence of Life Course has been embodied in the work of the UCEDDs and LENDs within the DD and the broader disability communities and for children with special health care needs and their families. The broad three areas of change outlined in the Policy Brief. A New Agenda for MCH Policy and Programs: integrating a Life Course Perspective by Fine A, Kotelchuck M, Adess N, Pies C. 2009 included:

· Rethinking and realigning the organization and delivery of individual and population-based health services.
· Linking health services with other services and supports (educational, social services, etc).
· Transforming social, economic, and physical environments to promote health.

Looking into the future, the field will have to work collaboratively to further advance the research and science, to facilitate the training and program development, and to impact policy changes. Exciting times lie ahead!

I am continually enthralled by new knowledge learned and yet newer knowledge to be gained. If you are just at the beginning of your journey or in the midst of your journey, may you relish unconventional experiences, discover novel ideas, and most of all find some place where you can marvel at something.

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