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VCU School of Education team develops statewide DEI training to educate those working with individuals with disabilities - VCU News

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The School of Education’s Partnership for People with Disabilities, in collaboration with the School of Education’s Office of Strategic Engagement, will launch this fall to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, primarily for Medicaid home and community employees. Leads a six-session online training course on sexuality. organization based on.

The VCU-led Training in Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (TIDE) project is part of a $160,000 grant from the Virginia Commission on Disabilities to improve care for Virginians with intellectual and developmental disabilities. and to improve the quality of service. The partnership was awarded a grant last year.

Dana Yarbrough, TIDE’s principal investigator and associate director of the partnership, said this was the first training of its kind she had ever seen.

“There are trainings to teach direct support professionals about cultural competence, but we want to approach it a little differently,” Yarbrough says. “Our view is that you will never be fully culturally competent. You are always striving and building your cultural agility.”

Yarbrough was inspired to work with the Office of Strategic Engagement after participating in last year’s successful Becoming an Antiracist Educator Series. She was impressed with how the facilitators designed these sessions in a way that encouraged participants to be open and contemplative in a group setting and offered them the freedom to change their mindset.

“We knew from the beginning that we had picked the right people to facilitate the session,” says Yarbrough.

Tessa Boutwell, Professional Learning Facilitator for the Office of Strategic Engagement, says this open and reflective approach is invaluable to participants.

“It allows people to process a lot of important information in engaging and thought-provoking ways,” she said. “This fall’s TIDE series will be a great opportunity for those who are open and interested in changing the way people with disabilities think.”

Tamara Dias, Ed.D., professional development facilitator for the Office of Strategic Engagement, said these sessions are very effective in meeting people wherever they are in their work and practice.

“Whether you’re a support counselor, a teacher, or someone who works at the front desk, you can see how the content is relevant to your job,” she said. “We do a very good job of individualizing the experience.”

Seb M. Prohn, Ph.D., Assistant Director of Research and Evaluation at the Partnership, analyzed feedback from a pilot session for this training in the spring.

“At the end of the training, all respondents were motivated to change their practices and learn more about prejudice, privilege, power, culture, and how the intersection of culture and disability is taken into account in assisting persons with disabilities. We were able to do that,” says Prohn. “They said we need to be more empathetic, listen more attentively, respect the rights and opinions of people with disabilities, and be allies and co-conspirators of change.”

All members of the collective team agreed that a basic component of the series was to include people with disabilities in the creation of training as well as individual sessions. For example, each session will feature a video of someone with a disability talking about the session, sharing their perspectives and reminding people what they need to think about.

Angela West, TIDE project coordinator and multicultural specialist at the Center for Family Participation in Disability Partnerships, selected Virginia self-advocate videos that showcased each topic in the training. West said the training centers around core beliefs in partnership.

“I believe it’s really important in partnerships for people with disabilities to focus on the individual, the whole person, and not just the person with the disability,” she said. It’s what really gets me excited about this project.People just want to be respected and treated like individuals.They want to be valued.”