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Rural Institute Offers Education and Support to Advocates

The Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities is mandated by the federal Developmental Disabilities Act to educate policy makers about how their decisions impact children and adults with disabilities. One way we educate policy makers is to provide leadership education and support to local advocates like Jackie Mohler of Family Outreach, Inc. in Helena, MT. She recently represented Montana at the AUCD Leadership Academy (https://disability.publichealth.gsu.edu/academy/).

Montana Disability Voices logoUpon her return and with the Rural Institute's continued support, Jackie partnered with State Representative Mary Caferro (D-Helena) to establish the statewide disability advocacy group, Montana Disability Voices (https://www.mtdisabilityvoices.org/). Jackie is currently working with state legislators to educate them on the benefits of HB 251, a Montana Medicaid buy-in program for children with disabilities. Connections made through her Rural Institute-supported activities have provided the technical resources, confidence and "know how" to develop and advocate for improved services for Montana's children with disabilities and their families.

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Walk audit focuses on accessibility and inclusion

On January 15, 2019, Missoula’s Downtown Master Plan held an Inclusive Interdisciplinary Walk Audit (I2Walk) as part of the Downtown Missoula Master Plan Public Design Workshop. Over the week, various workshop events gave community members an opportunity to share their vision and ideas for the future of downtown Missoula.

The I2Walk was co-sponsored by the University of Montana, the Rural Institute, and the Montana Disability & Health Program, as well as other local disability and community groups. Together, these groups help to build capacity within the state and local communities to support the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Dr. Meg Ann Traci, Research Associate Professor and RIIC employee, along with disability advocacy partners and stakeholders from around the state, collaborated to organize and lead the walk audit. To learn more about the development of the I2Walk, see: Walkable rural communities for all: Using inclusive, interdisciplinary walk audit workshops to achieve health equity, where you can find information about a poster presentation on the process presented at the APHA 2018 Annual Meeting & Expo.

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Rural Institute Partners with the YETI Program to Offer Support to Parents

YETI Youth Engagement Through Intervention

The Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities is partnering with the YETI (Youth Engagement Through Intervention) Program, which teaches communication skills to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), to support the YETI STEP Program for parents and caregivers of children with ASD. YETI STEP (Youth Engagement Through Intervention—Support Through Education & Planning) offers resources to help families tailor behavioral strategies to their households.

Children with ASD can often benefit from targeted, specific intervention strategies that give them tools to communicate. However, parents and families may not have training and education to understand their children’s diagnoses, treatments, and interventions. To address this, the YETI STEP program helps families increase their knowledge and provides strategies to help their children improve behavior and increase communication. During the 90-minute sessions, families learn behavior management techniques to help their children increase language production. They then work one-on-one with a graduate student clinician to individualize the group lesson.

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Transition Programs for Montana High School Students with Disabilities

Movin On Logo web

The Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities and UM Disability Services for Students Offer Transition Programs for Montana High School Students with Disabilities

Montana high school students with disabilities now have two opportunities to explore and prepare for postsecondary education through the Movin’ On in Montana Summer Program and Club.

The Movin’ On in Montana Summer Program is a chance for high school students to experience college life, learn about disability rights, and connect with academic and community resources.  Students stay in residence halls, eat on campus, attend college lectures, participate in workshops, interact with college students of all abilities and explore Missoula’s recreational activities.  The free program will take place July 9th-12th at the University of Montana.

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