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Continuation of the Twin Cities Zambia Disability Connection project

Amy Hewitt, Ph.D., senior research associate and interdisciplinary training director, and Matthew Bogenschutz, research fellow, both at the Institute on Community Integration anticipate the May arrival of a group from Zambia as a continuation of the Twin Cities Zambia Disability Connection project. Hewitt and Bogenschutz are two members of a group from the Institute on Community Integration involved in this grassroots project to build capacity to support children with disabilities and their families in Zambia where there is no social service structure in place to support people with disabilities.

Since the project began in 2007, Hewitt has seen funding come together that has enabled University faculty and students to travel to Zambia to promote understanding of disabilities and assist in the networking of care providers across the country. Hewitt notes that the high energy surrounding this project despite the low-level of funding is indicative of the commitment and passion people have for this project.

Last summer Bogenschutz was part of a group that traveled to Zambia. The goal of the trip was to raise awareness of disabilities at a community level and provide further training and encouragement to existing care providers. Bogenschutz believes that the support offered by the team in Zambia was a solid starting point for future development.

Hewitt parallels Zambia with the U.S. half a century ago when disabilities were linked to feelings of pity and shame. This project aims to guide communities to the arena of social justice where people with disabilities are not hidden, but included as partners within their community.

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