LEND Alumni Alert: MCH journeys

The Louisiana LEND program trains professionals from diverse disciplines to improve the health of infants, children, and adolescents with disabilities. Here are updates from LEND scholars as they navigate Maternal, Child, Health (MCH) fields since participating in the program from 2021-22.

“As the parent of a child with developmental disabilities, it is inspiring to see so many professional students begin their career journey with learning how to provide person-centered and family-centered, culturally competent care to the families they will serve. I only hope that my stories [as a family member to individuals with disabilities] were able to help my fellow, awesome cohort members to gain a little insight into the ‘lived experience.’”

Konstance Causey, 2022 LEND Scholar

Konstance Causey

Konstance continues to change the world in her personal advocacy as a family member to individuals with disabilities and as a professional in her roles as the Regional Advocacy Leader with the Louisiana Council’s Advocacy Network (LaCAN) and as Deputy Director of Families Helping Families of NELA, a family-directed support for information and referrals for families of individuals with developmental disabilities. Through LaCAN, Konstance has spent the last six years helping to advocate with a statewide coalition for inclusive programs, policies, and services for the developmental disability community.

Since LEND, Konstance has become more inspired to find where she can make a difference in the world. She currently participates in several statewide task forces, committees, and policy initiatives that are working to eliminate inequalities and disparities in our health and education systems across Louisiana.

Konstance states, “I have only hoped to bring to the forefront, a renewed focus on a population of children and adults with disabilities and the voice of parents and family member of people with disabilities, that often face even more unique struggles and challenges within more broader issues of health care, early childhood, and education.”

Cedric Dent, MSW

Cedric is currently working as a social worker at Success at Thurgood Marshall in New Orleans, Louisiana. He serves a very large population of students (pre-k-8th grade). Cedric loves connecting with families to meet the holistic needs of his students, and attributes his ability to communicate effectively with parents and teachers to his time at Louisiana LEND.

Cedric says, “LEND has impacted my ability to not only communicate at a high level but also to learn how to use collaborative resources to help my community.”

Taylor Villemarette, MOT

Taylor is currently working as an Occupational Therapist with the Center for Resilience in New Orleans. The Center for Resilience is a therapeutic day treatment program providing educational and intensive mental health supports to ensure the emotional well-being and academic readiness of children with behavioral health needs in the Greater New Orleans region. At the Center for Resilience, children with behavioral health and autism or related spectrum diagnoses receive instructional, medical, and therapeutic services with the goal of building the skills necessary to successfully transition back to the traditional school setting.

When thinking back to all she’s learned in LEND, Taylor says, “It’s almost impossible to list all of the things that my time in LEND gave me, but to name a few: I gained confidence in advocating for my students, a network of resources, a vast support system, and the comfort of knowing so many others are working toward similar values of inclusion, efficacy, research and wellness.”

About Louisiana LEND

The Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) is a nine-month interdisciplinary training program that incorporates both didactic and experiential learning in clinical and community-based settings. LA LEND prepares graduate students, family members, self-advocates, and practicing professionals to become future leaders in designing and implementing services, policies, advocacy, and consuming/conducting research and evaluation addressing the needs and priorities of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), other neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDD) and developmental disabilities (DD) and their families.