MN UCEDD Launches National Resource on History of Leadership in Disabilities Movement

April 4, 2011

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For over a century a movement has been growing in this country to ensure that people with developmental disabilities are valued, included, empowered and productive members of society. This collective effort of individuals and groups, referred to broadly as the Developmental Disabilities Movement, has been spurred on by leaders who have brought different styles of leadership and different leadership priorities to the task of creating sustained social change.

A new Web resource that offers a history of this movement and some of its key leaders has been launched by the Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC), in the Institute on Community Integration (MN UCEDD), with support from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation. Titled, Leadership in the History of the Developmental Disabilities Movement: A Web-Based Instructional, Discussion, and Wiki Program, this multimedia Web site uses Wiki technology to create a living history that continually expands and evolves with contributions from leaders around the country.

"We envision this Web site as a tree," says Charlie Lakin, RTC Director. "It presents an overview course on disability history that we've developed, and that's the trunk of the tree. But to make it a living tree we also need branches, and branches off of those branches. We hope that many of the established leaders and historians of our field will contribute those branches by using the site as a multi-media repository through which to share the personalities, ideas, and lessons that have shaped our field to date. Hopefully, by passing on their stories of how we got to where we are, future leaders will be better aided to guide the continued evolution of the movement."

The overview course reaches back to 1845 and profiles key leaders and events in the movement from that time forward to today. This is expanded upon by the Wiki repository, which will house the experiences, stories, and archival materials submitted by leaders in the movement. As many older leaders who've been part of the tremendous progress in the Developmental Disabilities Movement since the 1950s are reaching retirement age and beyond, the time is right to gather and preserve the information, insight, and resources they possess as an important legacy for future generations.

"Our hope for this project is that it will be a source of inspiration for current and future leaders in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities," says Dwight Robson, President of The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation. "Especially for those new to the field, this project will underscore how much progress had been made while energizing all of us to continue to push the movement forward toward a day of full equality and integration for those we support.



The Research and Training Center on Community Living, in the University's Institute on Community Integration, is the federally-designated Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Community Living and Employment of Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education. The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation works to build on The Network's innovative approach to human services by seeking new solutions and creative ideas for enhancing the lives of people with disabilities and youth and families facing emotional, behavioral and other challenges, and by expanding opportunity for those it serves.