The LEND Academy
The LEND Academy is a collaborative study project where trainees gather experience in the disability field and then use that insight to formulate a new understanding of public policy issues. For 2005-6, the LEND fellows are exploring special disability needs within certain Boston-area community-based minority groups (CBMOs), drawing on relationships that the Institute for Community Inclusion has built with about 50 CBMOs. LEND fellows have been working with these groups for the last four years.
In the first month of the semester, each trainee chooses a minority/immigrant group and, with help from a mentor, develops a trusting relationship with the leaders there. Trainees devote considerable time to learning about the cultural, economic, and political elements that influence the lives of people who have disabilities in these communities. Fellows participate in group meetings, social events, individual visits, and possibly trips for services. As this continues, fellows undertake a project to provide assistance to the group.
Fellows discuss their experiences in academy meetings to gain insight, and prepare a report. Areas for particular reflection include the significance of mental retardation in immigrant and disadvantaged groups, and the relationship between poverty and disability services.