Lunch-and-Learn Sessions and Summer Learning Series

tags: Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities

The Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) launched its inaugural Spring Lunch-and-Learn Series under the leadership of Mirian Ofonedu, PhD, LCSW-C, the MCDD’s training director. The series ran from March through April and included eight free virtual workshops for parents, caregivers, professionals, advocates, and children and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The workshops covered topics such as mental health wellness and self-care, inspiring hope, advocating for one’s child, creating a disability-friendly community, fun activities to do with family and friends, and question-and-answer sessions for parents and caregivers raising children with disabilities.

The series was an amazing learning opportunity for webinar hosts and participants alike. MCDD trainees who participated in the series noted that it shed light on the unique perspectives and struggles of families raising children with IDD, and helped them understand the importance of considering each family’s unique experiences and needs in their future careers as health professionals. The experience provided them with the opportunity to advance their facilitation, critical thinking and interpersonal skills, and to become stronger advocates for the rights of people with IDD.

The virtual series reached about 200 people from the state of Maryland and beyond—and provided participants with the opportunity to engage and interact with each other in Zoom breakout rooms. The workshops were informal and flexible, so participants could join at any time, even if they could only attend part of the session. MCDD trainees Olivia Bowley, Ashley Turcios and Lindsey Turlik, in collaboration with Dr. Ofonedu, assisted with developing the sessions’ structure and activities, facilitating the breakout room discussions, and putting together a resource guide that was shared with participants following each session to complement the live presentation. The resources can be accessed on Kennedy Krieger’s Spring Lunch-and-Learn Series webpage or downloaded as a PDF.

In addition to the Spring Lunch-and-Learn Series, the MCDD is also hosting its Summer Learning Series June 21 through August 1, focusing on such topics as the intersection of racism and suicide and mental health interventions for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. The series consists of half-day (or shorter) workshops designed to help a range of professionals (e.g., teachers, social workers, psychologists, nurses, care providers, paraprofessionals, case managers, speech-language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, school counselors, care management professionals, faith leaders, community members, parents, students and others) expand their knowledge and skills to engage in effective advocacy. Visit the series webpage for more information on each workshop and to register.

Stacey Herman, MSEd, CESP, and Tami Goldsmith from Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Neurodiversity at Work program also hosted a summer lunch-and-learn series in collaboration with the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration and the Maryland Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE). Sessions included “Benefits Counseling: Navigating Social Security Benefits,” “Transformation of Services” and “Charting the Lifecourse.”