In a move that strengthens and empowers the advocacy networks that serve individuals with disabilities, the Northern Marianas College through the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Program recently conducted a comprehensive training session for key service providers and consumers.
The training sessions, which were held on Rota last weekend, was geared particularly toward members of the UCEDD’s Consumer Advisory Committee. The council consists of parents and representatives of agencies that provide services, support or advocacy for people with disabilities and their families.
“NMC’s UCEDD program has provided like myself the opportunity to learn more about federal laws revolving around developmental disabilities,” said Marissa Guerrero, chairperson of the CAC. “Being a CAC member of UCEDD has opened doors for me to advocate and educate as well as assist other parents, individuals with developmental disabilities, and families on how to improve services and opportunities for our children and community.”
“This training, the first of its kind in the CNMI, is an integral part of NMC’s goal of building capacity and enhancing advocacy in the community,” said NMC president Dr. Carmen Fernandez. “We will continue to play an active role in promoting opportunities for individuals with disabilities.”
Serving as a critical link to the community, the CAC is also one of the ways UCEDD involves stakeholders in formulating policies and standards of participation, education, research, and other functions. In addition to the CAC, representatives form the Developmental Disabilities Council and the Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems Inc. also attended the training session.
Chief among UCEDD’s aims is to foster the development of programs and activities that promote equal opportunity, independence, productivity, and an improved quality of life for people with developmental disabilities. It is sponsored through a grant from the University of Hawaii’s University Center of Excellence program and is the sister program of American Samoa Community College UCEDD Program. (NMC)