UM Trainee with a Lifelong Commitment to People with Disabilities
Jenn Banna is a UM parent leadership trainee in the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND) program. URLEND works with UM’s Rural Institute and other universities to develop leaders who can improve health and educational outcomes for children and youth with disabilities and their families. Jenn knows disability well. In high school she provided respite care to people with disabilities and her father was the first Director of the Child Development Center at Fort Missoula. She has had two children with disabilities. One passed away, and her fourth child was born with PittHopkins Syndrome.
In recent years, with PLUK, Inc. (Montana’s Parent Training and Information Center for families who have a child with a disability) and the Mountain States Genetics Regional Collaborative, Jenn helped support families with children who have atypical medical, behavioral, or basic needs. This past year she was appointed to the Montana Family Support Services Advisory Council (FSSAC) by Governor Steve Bullock.
Jenn’s parent leadership trainee project is to find creative life solutions for her daughter and others like her as they become adults. She is well on her way to making a positive difference in Montana.
Early in Jenn’s daughter’s life a local physical therapist put together a support group for moms who had children with disabilities so they could meet socially and advocate for one another. So far they have helped build an adaptive playground for Missoula, and they brought Caroline’s Carts to two local stores. These shopping carts help caregivers transport older children with special needs around the store.