WI LEND is proud to celebrate the tenth anniversary of graduating disability advocates as LEND trainees! Thirteen trainees representing the disability advocacy discipline (persons with a disability) have completed LEND training since 2012. According to Anne Bradford Harris, the WI LEND Director, “The diverse perspectives from having multiple advocate and family Fellows in the WI LEND program has provided a rich, mutually beneficial training experience for all LEND trainees. It is so important to have the perspective of disability advocates represented in an interdisciplinary training program because as the saying goes, “Nothing about us, without us.” This quote, originally written by author James Charlton, continues to have relevance today and has become somewhat of a mantra. People with disabilities must be front and center as visible leaders with a platform to share their experiences and their voices. Read the full newsletter article WI LEND alumnus Danielle Gerber wrote about this momentous anniversary on the AUCD web page.
In 2022, WI LEND Self-Advocacy discipline trainee Elise Fjelstad wrote a feature for the UW-Madison campus newspaper, The Badger Herald, entitled “Equity, not equality: UW disability community mobilizes for more equitable accommodation access, campus climate.” Elise highlights how students and faculty with disabilities are working towards more visibility and accessibility on campus. In an effort to uplift marginalized voices, she felt it was important to feature the work of people actually in the community and to serve as a reminder of the fact that there is always more work to do in fighting for an equitable world. “[UW students] said they believe faculty could use more training on how to both implement accommodations in their specific classes and interact with students who have accommodations — but proper access to accommodations is just the start of improving disability inclusion on campus.” Read more about what it means to have an inclusive and equitable campus for students with disabilities in Elise’s article.
In 2020, WI LEND Social Work trainee Kiley McLean took on a leadership role in development and implementation of the policy curriculum during her 2nd year. She mentored trainees in the policymaking process and in how to educate policymakers in different ways about issues related to the disability community. She has also engaged in advocacy of her own related to COVID-19 and people with disabilities. She published “Don’t Leave People with Disabilities Behind in Coronavirus Relief” in The Cap Times and “COVID-19 Relief Package: We are Essential” in AUCD Policy Talk. Through this, she advocated for “specific funding for direct support professionals that support people with disabilities, sick and paid leave for those caring for their loves ones with disabilities, specified funding for Medicaid home and community-based services, stimulus payments to all people with disabilities, and dedication to nondiscriminatory practices in health care.” Check out the article and Kiley’s AUCD post.
In 2022, WI LEND graduate Danielle Gerber was selected to be featured on the AUCD’s Emerging Leaders Map. Updated annually, the 2022 Emerging Leaders Map highlights the contributions of former trainees in supporting resiliency and self-determination for all. Read about all the recently selected emerging leaders on the AUCD web page.
In the 2021-2022 training year, recent WI LEND graduates Ida Winters and Stasia Wilson were hired to fill the roles of Family Peer Mentor and Disability Advocacy Peer Mentor, respectively. WI LEND has had trainees and staff in the family discipline for over 15 years, and added self-advocate trainees 10 years ago. Peer Mentors check in with family and self-advocate trainees throughout their LEND training experience, expanding the circles of mentorship and support around trainees in these disciplines. Ida and Stasia emphasize both the value of the Peer Mentor role and the importance of having staff representing a diversity of backgrounds and abilities in WI LEND. Read more about Ida, Stasia, and the new Peer Mentor role in the AUCD network news.
In 2019, WI LEND Public Health trainee Kali A. Kramolis and Robert A. Peterson Jr. of the Madison-based ABC for Health published “Robert A. Peterson Jr. and Kali A. Kramolis: Valuable child health care program is flying under the radar” in The Cap Times. HealthCheck is a federal Medicaid program that can provide critical preventive healthcare to Wisconsin children, but it is underutilized. “Historically, Wisconsin consistently fails to address and serve the health care needs of many vulnerable children. We can and must do better. And we will. That is why we are creating an action plan to help Wisconsin’s children.” The HealthCheck Task Force worked on developing accessible outreach to help ensure everyone is aware of this vital program. Click here for the full article.