Waisman Center (WI UCEDD/LEND) Creates a Disability Awareness Spanish Radio Novela

September 7, 2011

Website Link  http://www.waisman.wisc.edu/familysupport360/pubs.php

The Wisconsin Family Support 360 (WFS 360) project was designed to be family-centered and directed and these principles were embedded into the structure of the project. This included a project advisory committee reflective of the ethnic, racial and economic experience of families served by the project.  In the fall of 2007 Spanish speaking parents of children with disabilities on the WFS 360 Advisory Committee began talking about how marginalized they often feel by their Latino community.  They wanted to do something to increase awareness and acceptance of their families and people with disabilities. In response WFS 360 proposed the idea of a radio novela.

The radio novela, a serialized storytelling format, is a familiar medium for educating the public in Latino culture. A New Beginning for Ana and her Family uses the novela structure to increase awareness about people with developmental disabilities and the importance of their inclusion in the life of their community. It provides an entertaining and educational insight into the experience of families, children and siblings with disabilities and community members as they move through the different settings and life cycle events of Ana and her family.  

The story of the Chávez family is told over thirteen episodes from Ana's diagnosis with cerebral palsy to her first job as a young adult. Each episode includes:

  • best practices in language and values about people with disabilities,
  • cultural beliefs important to Latino/Hispanic families,
  • supports and resources helpful to families,
  • opportunities and challenges to community and school inclusion and,
  • a cliff hanger that engages the audience in future episodes.

The novela booklet is designed for multiple uses. It includes the story scripts in both English and Spanish and a compact disc (CD) of the story performed in Spanish. The CD can be shared with families as they begin their journey with a child with disabilities. This may be particularly helpful as families begin to interact with early intervention programs or shortly after diagnosis. The written or audio version can be used in the classroom, faith community, schools and community to begin a discussion on supporting and including people with disabilities and their families in community life.

While the story takes place over thirteen episodes, each episode can stand alone as an educational tool.  For example, students in a middle school class can listen to the story about a soccer game and then talk about how to include their peers with disabilities in sporting events; medical professionals can learn more about the importance of folk medicine in the care of patients; educators can gain insight into the challenges families experience in partnerships with schools; and community members can understand their role in accepting and including members with disabilities.

This booklet and the audio recordings are viewable on the website above.

To request copies, email the Waisman Center. For additional information about the novela contact Elizabeth Hecht at 608-263-7148.