tags: Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities

On January 12, the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) co-sponsored a hybrid event, “Empowering Accessibility: A Journey Through Digital Inclusion,” along with Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress. The presentation, by Ms. Wheelchair America 2024, Chandra Smith, focused on the importance of digital accessibility.

Chris Mason-Hale

On January 18, Kristine Nellenbach, MS, program coordinator for the Resource Finder, attended the in-person Maryland Department of Disabilities Town Hall meeting, held at the Bay Area Center for Independent Living in Salisbury, Maryland. Nellenbach brought MCDD brochures and fact sheets and gave a presentation about the MCDD’s latest updates. Maureen van Stone, Esq., MS, assistant vice president and director of the MCDD, and Christopher Mason-Hale, BSW, MCDD community advocate, attended virtually, ensuring representation from the MCDD.

On January 22, Nellenbach gave a virtual Resource Finder overview presentation to a parent support group for children with autism, “Small Steps Together,” hosted by xMinds. This organization hosts monthly discussion groups for Montgomery County parents and caregivers of children with autism.

On January 24, Nellenbach gave a virtual Resource Finder overview presentation to the core special education team of Garrett County Public Schools. Participants had an opportunity to learn how the Resource Finder program can help families, children and adults with disabilities.

On January 25, Nellenbach gave a Resource Finder overview presentation to Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Pediatric Comprehensive Neurorehabilitation Unit (PCNU) staff members.

Kristine Nellenbach stands behind a table and smiles. The table is covered by a black cloth that says Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

On February 2, Nellenbach hosted an exhibitor table at the Special Education Resource Fair, hosted by Baltimore County Public Schools. She provided attendees with a wealth of valuable information and resources about the MCDD.

Also on February 2, Nellenbach gave a virtual Resource Finder overview presentation to the Talbot County Public Schools Special Education Team.

On February 6, van Stone and Mason-Hale gave a presentation, “The Complexity of Language Within the Disability Communities: Why Language Matters.” The audience included members of Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Governance and Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

On February 7, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), launched its first International Special Interest Group (SIG). Their mission is to foster sharing and exchange of knowledge and practices and forge meaningful partnerships that promote and enhance disability inclusion globally. The SIG is open to AUCD members who have a strong interest in or whose work is related to international activities. It provides a platform that encourages lifelong learning, promotes interdisciplinary training and research, education, co-creation and cross-cultural collaboration, knowledge, practice, resource sharing and translation, and information dissemination. Mirian Ofonedu, PhD, LCSW-C, director of training for the MCDD, co-led the effort for the launching of the SIG and contributes to the SIG’s leadership.

Dr. Mirian Ofonedu.

On February 8, Marina Sarris, web content administrator for Autism Research and Engagement Core, authored an article, “Black Families in SPARK Reveal Barriers to Autism Help.” The article was published on the Simons Powering Autism Research (SPARK) website and discusses how obstacles like racism, stigma, cultural disparities, insufficient information and limited access to care affect Black families seeking assistance for children with autism.

On February 13, van Stone co-presented a Maternal and Child Health Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (LEND) Program core course, “The Role of Ethics in Multidisciplinary Care,” for nearly 60 LEND and MCDD trainees.

Mallory Legg headshot.

Also on February 13, Mallory Legg, Esq., director of Project HEAL, Emma Barbato, Esq., staff attorney for Project HEAL, and van Stone delivered a Project HEAL overview presentation to the Planning Giving Advisory Council for Kennedy Krieger’s Philanthropy Department.

On February 14, Mason-Hale was featured in an interview on We’re Your Public Radio (WYPR) program, On The Record, hosted by Sheilah Kast. He spoke about the complexities of dating for individuals with disabilities.

On February 16, Nellenbach gave a Resource Finder overview presentation during an Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Community Education and Dissemination Council (CEDC) quarterly meeting. Attendees included representatives from several state University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD) programs.

On February 21, several MCDD staff members and trainees participated in Developmental Disabilities Day at the Legislature (DD Day) in Annapolis, Maryland. The MCDD, LEND program and Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training co-sponsored a lunch-and-learn event at St. Anne’s Parish Hall more than 65 people, catered by Mission BBQ.

On February 22, van Stone, Beth Benevides, chair of the MCDD's Community Advisory Council (CAC), and members of senior leadership at Kennedy Krieger Institute conducted a tour of facilities in Wicomico County, including Maple Shade Youth and Family Services, Bennett Middle School, and TidalHealth. They also participated in a Healthy Minds for Shore monthly meeting with Wicomico County community leaders. The tours were arranged by Dr. Katherine Jones, EdD, executive director of Bay Area Center for Independent Living and CAC member.

On February 22-23, Dr. Ofonedu represented the MCDD at an annual research summit hosted by the Ohio State University Nisonger Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC). Dr. Ofonedu serves as a member of the Research Experience Expert Panel (REEP) for the RRTC study that seeks to advance the health and wellness of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and co-occurring mental health concerns.

On February 27, van Stone gave a guest lecture, “Restraint and Seclusion: An Overview of Law and Practice,” to the Seminar for Disability Studies senior class at the University of Delaware.

On February 28, Nellenbach gave a virtual Resource Finder overview presentation to staff members of Jewish Community Services, an organization that offers support and resources to individuals with disabilities in Maryland.

Tyler Cochran

On February 29, Tyler Cochran, Esq., staff attorney for Project HEAL, Legg and van Stone attended a public interest networking event at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

On March 4, van Stone gave a guest lecture, “A Study of Three Issues in Mitigating Childhood Adversity,” as part of the course, “Evidence and Opportunities to Mitigate Childhood Adversity and Promoting Well-Being,” at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

From March 6 through 10, Legg, Cochran and van Stone attended the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) 26th annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

A large group of people stand in front a green curtain and smile at the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) conference.

On March 7, van Stone, as a member of the executive committee, participated in the COPAA board of directors in-person meeting.

A group people pose for a photo in a conference room at the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) conference.

On March 6, Dr. Ofonedu assisted in organizing and facilitating the inaugural AUCD International Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting, which brought together representatives from disability and self-advocacy agencies from more than 23 states, along with participants from Canada.

On March 8, Tracy Wright, People On the Go (POG) deputy director and director of training, and James Orman, POG program coordinator, gave a presentation about voting and advocacy to members of a self-advocacy group in Bel Air, Maryland, Voices of US.

On March 9, Legg, Cochran and van Stone gave a presentation, “Hot Topics: Informal School Removals and How to Respond,” at the COPAA conference.

On March 11, Dr. Ofonedu gave a presentation to teachers and staff members of Bear Creek Elementary School in Baltimore County, Maryland, “Working with Culturally Diverse Populations: Applying the Family as Host Model for Culturally Responsive Practice.” Participants learned how to apply the “Family as Host” model for culturally responsive practice in their work to foster better and more comprehensive relationships with culturally diverse students and families.

On March 12, van Stone, Mason-Hale, and staff members from across the Institute participated in a brainstorming meeting with Visit Baltimore’s marketing and communications team on ways to increase accessibility in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tracy Wright and Cindy Ibarra smile, as Wright sits and her wheelchair and Ibarra stands to her left side. They are next to a table with a white People on The Go Maryland table cloth.

Also on March 12, Wright and Ibarra exhibited at Hispanic Outreach Through Positive Engagement event, hosted by The Arc Prince George’s County.

On March 22, Nellenbach hosted an exhibitor table at the “Hop into Health Resource Fair,” an event hosted by The Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County, Inc. This nonprofit organization is an affiliate of Carroll Hospital and the Carroll County Health Department.

Mallory Legg and Maureen van Stone smile in a photo at the Special Needs Alliance conference.

Also on March 22, Legg and van Stone gave a presentation, “Transition Planning for Children with Disabilities,” at the Special Needs Alliance conference in Asheville, North Carolina. They provided an overview of transition planning, including applicable federal laws and regulations, and the goals of transition planning.

Cindy Ibarra.

On March 23, Cindy Ibarra, MCDD administrative services coordinator, hosted an exhibitor table at the Baltimore City Public Schools Special Education Resource Fair. Ibarra gave brochures, fact sheets and other items to families and professionals seeking information about the MCDD.

Also on March 23, Mason-Hale hosted an exhibitor table for the MCDD at the Kent County Public Schools Resource Fair. The MCDD was excited to connect with families on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

On March 26, Legg and van Stone co-presented a LEND core course, “Medical Decision Making/Informed Consent and People with Intellectual Disabilities,” for nearly 60 LEND and MCDD trainees.

Maureen van Stone and a man stands in a hallway outside the office of Congressman Andy Harris.

On April 3, van Stone, Cindy Smith, MS, CAS, JD, director of public policy at AUCD, and Anthony Gioia, PhD, neuropsychology post-doctoral fellow, met with legislative staff from United States Senator Chris Van Hollen’s office and Congressman Andy Harris’s office to discuss and provide information related to the Maryland UCEDD, LEND program and AUCD.

On April 4, Dr. Ofonedu’s Annual Learning Series kicked off with the first event, “Fostering Meaningful Inclusion and Belonging at Work and in Life Spaces: Why it Matters and How to Prioritize it.” The interactive webinar was co-presented by Dr. Ofonedu and Nellenbach and discussed reasons that meaningful inclusion and belonging matter and offered effective strategies for fostering meaningful inclusion at individual, community and organizational levels.