Mississippi's Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities, founded in 1989, held its annual Torchbearer awards ceremony in December 2019.  The Coalition is a statewide, nonprofit cross- disability organization that focuses on expanding opportunities and enhancing quality of life for Mississippians with disabilities. Each year, Torchbearer Awards are given to honor individuals and organizations for their commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities.  During the 2019 award ceremony, which also marked the 30th anniversary of the Coalition, the Institute for Disability Studies (IDS), Mississippi's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), received two of the six awards presented.  One was presented to IDS for its Transition to Adulthood Programs and the other was awarded to Dr. Jerry R. Alliston, IDS' Associate Director, who oversees all transition to adulthood projects. 

IDS has focused on transition programs over the past 40 years and has included transition as a primary emphasis area for the past eight years.  Currently, IDS' Transition to Adulthood Programming includes seven projects: 


  • Project ToTAL (employment ),
  • Higher Education for All (postsecondary education ),
  • Designing Virtual Reality Training (employment training),
  • Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Southern Miss (education),
  • STEP UP to Leadership (advocacy),
  • TRIAD Service AmeriCorps (national service), and
  • Special Olympics (SO) College Southern Miss (inclusive sports and education). 


Dr. Jerry R. Alliston has been employed by IDS for the past 14 years, and has focused on creating and promoting transition programs since 2007.  Dr. Alliston has dedicated his professional and personal life to providing opportunities, encouragement, and assistance for young people with disabilities to live as independently as possible.

IDS provides pre-service training, community services and technical assistance programs for individuals with disabilities of all ages and their families. IDS' areas of emphasis include early intervention and education, transition to adulthood, wellness and housing.  To learn more about any of IDS' programs, call 601.266.5163 or visit: