CPD’s Judith Holt honored with Life Time Service Award

October 27, 2010 by cpehrson

Dr. Judith Holt has been awarded the Life Time Service Award at the Brain Injury Association of Utah’s Annual Conference on October 5, 2010.

Dr. Holt was honored for her “outstanding achievements and commitment towards improving supports and services for children, youth, and adults with disabilities and their families.  Throughout her career, she has been a strong advocate for consumer direction and choice and has extensive experience in designing, implementing, and evaluating systems of support.”

Dr Holt earned her B.A. in English and Psychology and her M.A. in Counseling and Guidance at Brigham Young University.  She later attended the University of Texas at Austin where she received her Ph.D. in Special Education.  She served as the Interdisciplinary Training Director with the University of Arkansas’s Medical Sciences, and later served as an Associate Director for their Department of Pediatrics.

In 2000, Dr. Holt returned to Utah where she was appointed the Division Director of the Interdisciplinary Training Division at the Center for Persons with Disabilities.  She also serves as the Co-Director for the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND), and is the Director of the Interdisciplinary Disability Awareness and Service Learning Project (IDASL). Dr. Holt is the Principle Investigator and Project Director for numerous other projects at the CPD that involve designing, implementing, and evaluating supports and services for children, youth, and adults with disabilities and their families.

Dr Holt is also serving as an Associate Professor for the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services at Utah State University and is an Adjunct Professor for the Department of Pediatrics with the University of Utah Medical School Health Sciences Center.

Since 2001, Dr. Holt has directed USU’s portion of four Traumatic Brain Injury grants in the state of Utah.  She and her staff have conducted two statewide needs assessments and developed and piloted TBI curriculum for state agencies and providers including Mental Health, Division of Services for People with Disabilities, Vocational Rehabilitation, and Juvenile Justice.  Through these grants, three community work groups were supported and program evaluations were completed.

As the Life Time Service Award stated, “Dr. Holt is a scholar of excellence with extraordinary talent, insight, and energy…She is a visionary whose innovative approaches have given way to improving needed supports for individuals across a broad spectrum and has personally championed individuals to succeed where most might not have been given the opportunity to utilize their skills.”

We congratulate and honor Dr. Holt on her life time of dedication and commitment to helping improve the lives of others.

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A KUED documentary and website address mental health in Utah

October 27, 2010 by JoLynne Lyon

On the Edge: Mental Health in Utah airs tonight (that’s Wednesday, October 27 At 7:00 p.m.) on KUED. Produced and directed by KUED’s Nancy Green and Sally Shaum, the one-hour documentary is the story of people diagnosed with severe mental illness and their struggle in a world that has little to offer in terms of care, support and resources.

Immediately following the program, KUED will air a half-hour call-in segment, Back from the Edge, hosted by KUED’s Ken Verdoia.  The program will extend the discussion with a panel of guest experts, including Sherri Wittwer, executive director of National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Utah.

The station’s website continues the discussion, offering a “watch online” option. KUED’s On the Edge webpage also directs visitors to information on mental illness, services that are available and tips for families struggling with this issue.

Here are some excerpts from the webpage about the film:

An estimated 230,000 Utahns are in need of care yet are not receiving services. State and federal budget cuts threaten to cripple an already overburdened system. As our healthcare system fails, it’s often left to the criminal justice system to take up the slack. Many people with serious mental illness will face criminal charges and jail time, often for minor disturbances.

…Among the troubling statistics cited is that the largest mental health institution in the U.S. today is the Los Angeles County Jail. “Jails are becoming the ‘de facto’ providers of mental health services across the country, ironically at a great cost to the public,” says KUED’s Nancy Green. “It costs ten times more to provide treatment for a seriously mentally ill inmate than it does to treat them in the community.”

Envisioning the future for people with disabilities

October 25, 2010 by cpehrson

Administration on Developmental Disabilities: Envisioning the Future Summit Series

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD) will be holding a series of meetings over the next several months to hear from self-advocates, family members, allies and professionals about their vision for the future of individuals with developmental disabilities.

The goal of the ADD is to assist people with developmental disabilities to reach their maximum potential through increased independence, productivity and integration within the community.  They do this by providing funding to grantees to partner with state governments, local communities and the private sector and address current issues.

This Envisioning the Future Summit Series is an opportunity to share the issues and concerns that you feel impact the lives of those with developmental disabilities the most.  Your input could lead to funding opportunities that focus on these important issues.

Possible issue areas include transition to post-secondary education and employment, independent living, community supports, aging and caregiving challenges.

The summits will be held in Orlando, FL, Dallas, TX, Detroit, MI, and Denver, CO.  Registration for the summits is now open.

If you are unable to attend one of these events in person you can also submit your comments online.

The ADD wants to hear from you.


Congratulations, CPD researchers!

October 21, 2010 by JoLynne Lyon

Congratulations to the CPD’s million-dollar researchers who were honored earlier this month at the USU Million Dollar Dinner. Of the 20 Utah State University researchers who were recognized, five were from the CPD. They are:

  • John Copenhaver, executive director of the Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special Education center. TAESE is the technical assistance division for the Center for Persons with Disabilities.
  • Bryce Fifield, the CPD’s director and a professor in the Special Education and Rehabilitation department.
  • CPD Interdiscipinary Training Division Director Judith Holt. Holt is also an associate professor in the Special Education and Rehabilitation department and the co-director of the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities.
  • CPD Research and Evaluation Division Director Mark Innocenti. He also holds an associate professor appointment in the Psychology department.
  • Susan Olsen, the CPD’s Exemplary Services Division director.

October: National Spina Bifida Awareness Month

October 21, 2010 by cpehrson

October is the month designated to raise public awareness about one of the most common disabling birth defects in the United States, spina bifida.

According to the Spina Bifida Association, an average of eight babies a day are born with spina bifida in the U.S. and there are currently an estimated 166,000 people living with spina bifida.  Most people born with spina bifida live full lives, though they may have lifelong disabilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that  “spina bifida occurs within the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman knows she is pregnant. It happens when the spine and back bones do not close all the way. When this happens, the spinal cord and back bones do not form as they should.”

According to the CDC, most, but not all, cases of spina bifida can be prevented by women simply taking folic acid every day.

“Folic acid is a B vitamin that the body needs to make healthy new cells. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body before and during pregnancy, her baby is less likely to have spina bifida or another defect of the brain or spine. Every woman who could possibly get pregnant should take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily in a vitamin or in foods that have been enriched with folic acid.”

Help to spread the word about how to prevent spina bifida.