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100+ Students Complete Comprehensive Disability Training Program

AUGUST 5, 2015

MCDD Trainees by Area of Study
MCDD trainees by area of study, 2008-2015

The Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) is proud to announce a significant milestone: More than 100 students have completed comprehensive training through the Center. Providing future leaders with training regarding disability is a cornerstone of the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities. Since 2008, the MCDD has mentored more than 100 trainees at different stages in their careers. Trainees range from high school to postdoctoral students, representing more than 10 fields of study including law, public health, psychology, education, social work, political science, and community health. In addition to the knowledge gained from interning at the MCDD, the trainees benefit from the broad skill sets and perspectives of their fellow trainees.

Seventy-seven of the MCDD's 128 trainees served as law student interns, externs, and volunteers at Project HEAL, a program of the MCDD. Project HEAL provides legal and advocacy services to low- and moderate- income Kennedy Krieger families and children with disabilities. Project HEAL trainees gain practical experience in navigating the needs of students receiving special education and related services. Students from public health, health science, and community health programs have the opportunity to participate in data and evaluation-driven research projects. Students interested in policy may participate in the legislative process. All students participate in community-based learning directly with self-advocates as well as families caring for children with developmental disabilities.

Collaborating institutions include various school divisions within the University of Maryland, The Johns Hopkins University, the University of Baltimore, Pennsylvania State University, Harvard University, the University of Oregon, the University of Florida, the University of Southern Mississippi, and other institutions throughout the country. Depending on individual program requirements and resources, students may receive stipends or credits toward a degree program. The MCDD works with collaborating institutions to coordinate these details on behalf of students.

Trainees work with MCDD faculty and staff to customize their learning experiences based on their interests and strengths, as well as the requirements of their home universities. A typical course of training occurs during the 16-week college semester in fall or spring. However, the placement is flexible based on students' needs and can last anywhere from six weeks to 12 months. Regardless of duration, the MCDD training program provides an experiential and instructional curriculum aimed at exposing students to disability science, policy, community, and practice.

Upon program completion, MCDD trainees pursue many options. Former trainees have taken leadership positions in both public and private sectors in research and evaluation, state and federal policy systems, joined the Centers for Disease Control, continued on to doctoral programs, become special education attorneys, or returned to Kennedy Krieger for employment.

"Our goal is to integrate disability-related care and services into students' work and practice with the ultimate goal of recruitment into the disability field," said Jacqueline Stone, director of information dissemination for the Center. "That being said, students with no prior knowledge or experience of disability-related studies have completed the training program with great success. Our goal is to immerse students in a wide range of experiences so they can infuse new knowledge into their future career path-whatever that may be. "For more information about the MCDD's interdisciplinary training program, please visit our website at or email us at