DAD 2024 trainee experiences

CDHD trainees talk DAD 2024 experiences

CDHD trainees talk DAD 2024 experiences

Recently, five of our student trainees travelled to Boise for Disability Awareness Day 2024. Not only did they work with staff during the event, they were also able to attend a legislative hearing. It was a chance to gain personal insight into raising awareness and advocating alongside the disability community.

The trip also saw them exploring some of the disability services and facilities available in the area. This includes the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC), Lotus Tree Occupational Therapy clinic and the Northwest Neurobehavioral Health Clinic (NNH).

This team bonding trip provided invaluable, hand-on experiences that can easily translate to many of their professional pursuits. But don’t just take our word for it!

Kincaid, Abril, Maya and Isabella all sat down to tell us about their highlights, insights and their top takeaways from the experience.

Three photos (from left to right): The five trainees are posing for a picture with the Capitol building in the background. It is night and they are all smiling at the camera. Next, Kincaid is at the DAD event, standing in front of a banner that shows a timeline of disability headlines in Idaho. He is holding his arms out to show the display. Next, two of the trainees help attendees sign up at a table. There are posters and resources in the background.

Disability Awareness Day and legislative hearing by Kincaid Moberly

Our wonderful supervisors, Olivia Lebens and Erik Luvaas, and five of us trainees (MK, Abril, Maya, Isabella and myself) visited the State Capitol Building for Fred Rigger’s Disability Awareness Day on February 1.

We listened in on the House Committee hearing of HB 419, a bill about Idaho Medicaid. The hearing testimonials focused on Medicaid expansion and personal experiences where Medicaid had paid for life-saving treatments. As Isabella put, “Each heartfelt story about their lives allowed everyone to remember the humanity within us and how important the power of ‘story’ is.”

It was a powerful introduction into the intricacies of our legislative system and how individuals can navigate it as advocates. Abril expressed this part of our trip was valuable to her, saying, “I think it is important to see our legislative process in action to understand the impact that we, the people, have in our state.”

Afterwards, we attended Disability Advocacy Day and worked with the Our Care Can’t Wait Coalition to collect stories about the direct care workforce crisis from self-advocates. I learned more about the personal experiences of service providers and advocates who have been protecting and advancing disability rights in Idaho, like Fred Riggers.

Fred Riggers was a farmer who became blind later in his life and made it his mission to advocate for the rights and needs of other people with disabilities. His legacy of kindness and persistence has inspired so many people to stand up for the equal treatment and protection of people with disabilities, from outside and within the community.

We were able to connect with so many amazing advocates, providers and legislators who have made it their legacy and mission to serve Idahoans with disabilities. I am so grateful for my experience, and I hope to attend Disability Awareness Day next year!

Three photos (from left to right): A wall in SWITC showing the PERMA model in colorful boxes and letters. Next, the trainees are standing on the steps of White Hall, all looking at and smiling at the camera. Next, a wall inside SWITC showing some client artwork made up of colorful handprints.

Southwest Idaho Treatment Center by Abril Correa

During our trip, I learned a lot and took away from each interaction, connection and experience we had in every place we visited.  However, my biggest takeaway was from our visit to the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC) in Nampa.

SWITC is a residential treatment that serves the needs of people with intellectual disabilities and mental illness in Idaho.  Each client came to SWTIC to seek treatment that is not available to them within their local communities.

Jamie Newton, Administrator at SWITC, was welcoming and wanted to learn more about us as individuals. This receptive and welcoming attitude could be seen throughout the Center. It’s clear that SWITC works hard to implement strategies to increase this sense of community.

One such strategy is using PERMA, which comes from Positive Psychology and stands for positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishments. During our time, we were shown many examples of PERMA in action. This included hearing about a recent talent show where clients had the opportunity to identify a talent and share it with others.

On our tour of the White Hall we saw a lot of art and signs demonstrating PERMA around the building. My favorite was the recreation of the “Imagination Station” which was a wall featuring handprints of clients and caregivers. It was a recreation of an original design featured in another building. To honor the original, there’s a picture in the center of the new design with all the handprints done in creative ways.

This illustrated to me the increasing sense of community through PERMA within SWITC.

Lastly, we were able to meet those who care for SWITC clients. We met some of the clients as well. There’s no doubt the Center is making an impact on the lives of many! We heard stories of various clients who transformed their lives by receiving the support they needed while at SWITC.

SWITC, alongside the rest of the organizations we visited on our trip, demonstrated an ability to identify a need and provide that need to those who will benefit the most. This inspires me in my future career as a Clinical Child Psychologist to be of service to individuals and communities in the most need! 

Two photos (from left to right): The trainees are standing in front of some colorful street art, showing beautiful flowers in different shades of pink and white. Next, the trainees are standing in an alley. The walls up and down the alley are covered in street art. All of the are smiling and looking at the camera.

Northwest Neurobehavioral Health Clinic by Maya Hamilton

One of my favorite experiences on this trip was going to Northwest Neurobehavioral Health clinic (NNH).

When you first walk in the door, you’re greeted with a wall of toddler pictures of all the staff at the clinic. This not only shows the kind of clientele the clinic primarily works with, but it also shows the patients that, once upon a time, we were all toddlers too.

NNH is a clinic that diagnoses different kinds of pediatric neurobehavioral disorders. We met a passionate psychologist named Dr Jeff Hall. He is one of the clinic owners and has been running it since he became a clinical psychologist. I thought it was amazing to hear that from day one he wanted to be a part of and own such a valuable clinic.

I learned from him that there are not enough people in our state that are able to diagnose these disorders, which is why he chose to go into this field. As we walked around, we were told that on average the clinic is seeing around 250 patients a day with a waiting list of around eight months. This blew my mind and proves the shortage of this kind of work in our state.

Dr Hall primarily works in diagnosing children coming in with Autism concerns. He then helps to set up a plan for each family, incorporating counseling, occupational therapy or other outpatient resources. I was very impressed with the diverse amount of services his clinic alone offers.

Our state needs more resources with this Clinic’s level of expertise that can provide this service. Until then, Dr Hall and his clinic are providing much needed support for families with children with developmental disorders. Hearing how passionate he is and how important his service is to Idaho made me excited to go into the medical field one day.

Three photos (from left to right): Isabella is in a hammock style swing, pushing herself toward a toy on the ground. She is smiling and having fun. Next, the trainees are all sitting in a cubby together. There are fairy lights on the roof above them. All of them are smiling and looking at the camera. Next, Isabella and Maya are sitting on long swings. They are rocking back and smiling as a Lotus Tree employee smiles at them.

Lotus Tree Occupational Therapy clinic by Isabella Gilmore

I had the incredible opportunity to see the good work that so many people are doing in the Treasure Valley. One of these places was Lotus Tree Occupational Therapy clinic.

Laurie Appel, who opened this clinic, shared her journey with us. She wanted to create a safe environment meant for children who need someone to take a little bit of extra time for them. Their goal is to create mind and body connections through various therapies including speech, music, physical and sensory integration.

We toured the whole clinic, met a few of the occupational therapists and played! The best part of this day was letting our inner child out. Everyone needs to play, and many forget this as life goes on.

Laurie and her team set up several types of swings and led us through their exercises. They encourage problem solving along with kinesthetic learning. I was immediately at home in the swing, feeling the freedom of flying around. The room was full of creativity and love with plenty of space for imagination. After a busy day full of information and understanding big subjects, this was the perfect way to finish it.

Besides the fun I had, I learned so much from this tour. Laurie explained how she goes about each interaction with a patient as looking for ‘an unmet need’. Parents come in with children who are having a hard time or misbehaving in school. As Laurie explained, no child is innately bad or behaves badly for the fun of it. A need is not being met. Laurie works until she finds that need. Then she works with patients and their families to fill this need.

I loved this perspective and I think we should apply it to all our interactions with people. We are all going through things. Parts of our lives are experiencing ‘unmet needs’ whether we know it or not. Treating others and ourselves with patience and grace is one of my key takeaways from Laurie’s clinic. Her passion for the work she does inspires me to look for the things that make me passionate and hold on to them.

I light up when I talk about the CDHD and my work here – it’s truly a place I’m passionate about. I’m so grateful I got to fully experience Lotus Tree; it was a beautiful representation of making a home for people who have been turned away by others.