Smithsonian Institution

Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Celebration at Smithsonian Air and Space Museum 

In collaboration with Beth Zeibarth, Director, Accessibility Program at Smithsonian Institution, EIN SOF designed, co-produced and helped secure funding for the Smithsonian Institution’s 2007 Disability Mentoring Day/IDEA Celebration that included seven federal agencies, national disability rights leaders, disability-savvy corporations and 250 local high school students for a disability awareness career day at the Smithsonian.  The event was the idea of Kevin Bradley, then director of diversity initiatives at McDonalds, but grew to a museum-wide activity with four educational modules that the students rotated through.  This effort required many great partners. We appreciate them all, particularly Cathy Healy, of the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC) for its Teacher’s Guide to maximize the experience for the students.

Module 1: Transitions, Advisors, Leadership, and Employment Activities in this Module included an experiential leadership maze to help foster mutual trust and understanding among participants as they worked together to navigate an unknown environment; mock interviews for students which provided feedback to help them sharpen their interview skills; and interactive sessions on self-disclosure and how to maximize college experiences.  Students were also encouraged to meet and talk with representatives from youth advisory groups, such as Kids As Self Advocates (KASA), the National Council on Disability’s (NCD) Youth Advisory Committee, National Youth Leadership Network, in addition to career preparatory programs such as High School-High Tech, Entry Point and Emerging Leaders.

Module 2: Assistive Technologies presented information about and demonstrations of assistive and accessible technologies that students can use as tools to increase their productivity at school and work, and to level the playing field as they continue their studies in college, and/or transitions to work and other adult community activities.

Module 3: Museum Education offered activities focused on the Treasures of American History exhibition on display in the National Air and Space Museum, which included Disability Rights Movement leader Ed Robert’s wheelchair.  Open discussions on disability culture and pride encouraged students to realize they too are a part of the ongoing history of people with disabilities in America.   The Honorable Judith E. Heumann and Yoshiko Dart talked with the students about their experiences and critical roles in creating the disability rights and independent living movements.  The National Council on Disability’s Youth Advisory Committee conducted an interactive timeline activity on defining moments in disability rights history that encouraged students to be a part of history right now and learn from the living legends.

Module 4: Physical Fitness and Nutrition providee opportunities for interaction with the U.S. Olympic Committee’s world-class, award-winning U.S. Paralympic athletes who signed autographs and posed for pictures, plus helped lead adaptive exercise and fitness activities.  Nutritional information was provided.