Film for Thought Course ‘Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy’ Is a First of its Kind in the College of Direct Support Curriculum

Atlanta, GA, 7 April 2010 - The College of Direct Support (CDS), an Internet-based college for direct support professionals managed in partnership by MC Strategies/Elsevier and the University of Minnesota’s Research and Training Center, has introduced a new genre of courses into the CDS Curriculum – “Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy”.

The story and lives of Diana Braun and Kathy Conour in Alice Elliott’s film “Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy” come alive in the latest course to be introduced by the CDS.

This new genre of courses within the CDS curriculum is called “Film for Thought” (FFT). Film for Thought is a specialized course that focuses on one film and uses it to help the learner connect the story within the film to the competencies and skills learned in the CDS. Unlike other CDS courses, these consist of one comprehensive lesson.

“The purpose of this new type of course is to take a film and to use it as a reflection tool for learning. The film provides a story or context about the lives of people with disabilities and then the story serves as a mean to reflect and integrate learning from various courses within the CDS,” says Dr. Amy Hewitt, Senior Research Associate/Training Director at the Research and Training Center on Community Living, Institute on Community Integration, at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Hewitt oversees the development of all CDS courses.

Elliott’s film “Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy” made its nationwide debut on PBS in the fall of 2009. This stirring movie chronicles the lives of two of the country’s most remarkable advocates for people with disabilities: Diana, who has Down syndrome, and Kathy, who had cerebral palsy. The release of the film in the fall was especially poignant with the passing away of Kathy Conour on Sept. 19th. But her story lives.

“Body and Soul is a story about Kathy and Diana, who supported one another and who have been engaged in advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities in Illinois,” Hewitt added. “This film was an excellent first choice for a FFT course because of the breadth of life successes and challenges experienced by them. In the development of the course we could have the learner reflect on content of every single existing CDS course. I think this is a good indication of how connected the CDS courses are to the real life experiences of people with disabilities, but it is also a reflection on how remarkable and engaged Kathy and Diana's lives are. Their story provides a powerful learning opportunity for CDS learners.”

This course divides this wonderfully popular film into chapters. It connects CDS content and learning to the main themes and story line of each of the film’s chapters and then asks the learner to reflect and integrate their CDS learning with the film and with their work as a Direct Support Professional (DSP).

Dr. Hewitt said, “This course will help DSPs see, hear and feel how many of the issues such as inclusion, advocacy, self-direction, choice, empowerment and support, which are integrated into the CDS, are also integrated and played out in real lives of people with disabilities. Learners will find helpful resources and references to refresh their thinking and knowledge about the issues identified in the film.”

Diana and Kathy met three decades ago and fought to live independent lives. Fearful of being locked away in a nursing home or forced into a state-run institution, Diana and Kathy broke the rules, escaped the system, and modeled a grand experiment in independent living.

As a result of their efforts, Diana and Kathy are well-known as a tireless and dynamic pair of lobbyists and disability rights activists. Although Kathy was non-verbal, with the help of a mouth stick and a Pathfinder assistive communication device, she wrote articles for national magazines and had an active email correspondence with leaders in the disability rights movement. She also served on boards and lobbied effectively for disability rights. She was once even arrested, power chair and all. Diana drives, cooks, shops, takes care of scheduling doctor’s appointments and was Kathy’s personal assistant and friend for more than 35 years.

The story chronicles a journey from their home in Springfield, IL to Washington, D.C. The trip is physically dangerous and technically illegal for them as Medicare rules required them to be homebound. However, history has shown that the benefits of breaking rules can sometimes outweigh the risks. Although people with disabilities comprise the largest minority in the United States, they are routinely denied equal access and rights. “Body & Soul: Diana & Kathy” exemplifies the abilities of people with disabilities and helps us understand an important and complex social issue.

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About the College of Direct Support
The College of Direct Support is a learning gateway for contemporary best practices for Direct Support Professionals. By incorporating web-based learning, backed by nationally recognized curricula, the CDS is designed to promote a profession of direct support. The CDS is being used in more than 30
American states and in Canada. It is a partnership between MC Strategies/Elsevier and the University of Minnesota’s Research and Training Center’s Institute on Community Integration, which authors the curriculum.

CDS offers a complete lineup of courses offered on the MC Strategies/Elsevier’s Learning Management System.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps scientists and clinicians to find new answers, reshape human knowledge, and tackle the most urgent human crises. For 140 years, we have partnered with the research world to curate and verify scientific knowledge. Today, we’re committed to bringing that rigor to a new generation of platforms. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, 39,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray's Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.

Media Contact:
Tom King
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