During Unprecedented Times, Kansas LEND Emerging Leaders Take Action

May 22, 2020

There was a call for action - and Kansas LEND trainees responded. As a statewide Stay at Home Order was announced in Kansas in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Kansas LEND trainees were quick to create and disseminate resources for Kansans with disabilities and their families.

Collaborating across disciplines, Kansas LEND trainees sought to meet the diverse needs of individuals and families across Kansas. Gabbi Rao, an occupational therapy trainee and Josh Edwards, a social work trainee and self-advocate, created a coping resource for caregivers of individuals with disabilities. The info-graphic includes a dozen examples of stress reducing activities that caregivers can do right at home without needing any additional materials. Rao shared, "I picked this topic because I am personally really interested in mental health, and I think during these stressful times it is especially important for caretakers to practice self-care."

In an effort to share information widely across the predominantly rural state, Kansas LEND increased their online presence by sharing various handouts, info-graphics, and videos on social media and the University of Kansas Medical Center's website. Psychology fellows and LEND trainees Katy Tepper and Bridget Cauley created a video series for caregivers of children with developmental disabilities with tips and strategies for managing life at home during this unprecedented time. Dr. Tepper described, "we created short videos that were accessible to families even if they only had a few minutes to watch. We identified topics that seemed relevant to parents of children with developmental disabilities, like self-care, using visual supports, and coping strategies for preschool children through adolescence." These are just a few of the unique ways Kansas LEND trainees have been able to apply their training in response to COVID-19.

As I reflect on the theme of AUCD's 2019 conference, "Leading Change Together," I am proud of my fellow Kansas LEND trainees for doing just that in our community. Having met many of my fellow Emerging Leaders from across the nation at the 2019 AUCD conference, I imagine many of you are also responding to this call for action by Leading Change Together. As the LEND training year comes to an end, I hope we will all carry this mantra with us on our next endeavors