YAI Sets Stage for Return of International Conference

Tue, November 13, 2018

L-R: George Contos, Delia Tucker, Rocio Ruiz, Kat Pheysey, Consuelo Senior and Ravi DahiyaYAI has over 60 years of experience and expertise in supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) locally, throughout Downstate New York and Northern New Jersey. Our outstanding training program is renowned on a national level. However, YAI is taking bigger, and further, steps toward expanding its international reputation. Over the past few weeks, YAI has sent in-house experts to both Chile and South Korea to share their diverse knowledge on I/DD issues. We are also currently in communication with government bodies and organizations across the globe, strategizing even more ways to spread our vision of seeing beyond disability.

Earlier this month in South Korea, Asst. Coordinator of Sex Education and Clinical Curricula Development Consuelo Senior and Sr. Behavior Intervention Specialist/Trainer Level 3 and Sexuality Specialist Kat Pheysey, gave a variety of presentations and met with multiple leaders, including the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Seoul City Council. They presented on the history of YAI, Personal Outcome Measures (POMs), sexuality, and building a self advocacy movement, among other topics.

Meanwhile in Chile, Senior Coordinator for Community and Family Services Rocio Ruiz presented at Antofagasta’s 8th Annual Autism Conference. The founder of the conference was a former attendee of YAI’s International Conference, which inspired her to initiate the Chilean Conference. Rocio gave two presentations on employment—an increasingly popular subject in Chile, where companies with 50 or more employees must hire at least 1% of their workforce with developmental disabilities in order to qualify for special funding.

Upon their return from South Korea and Chile, respectively, the three presenters debriefed with YAI CEO George Contos, Chief Program Officer Ravi Dahiya, and Director of Special Projects and Strategic Initiatives Delia Tucker. Consuelo and Kat reported there’s a strong interest in further trainings, especially as South Korea moves toward a person-centered model. In particular, there’s a growing interest in how to support people with varied diagnoses and how to foster opportunities for people to get out into their communities.

Rocio’s feedback was also highly promising. There’s a strong interest in employment services to support people with I/DD. Additionally, not only has the Chilean Conference become hugely successful, it has even inspired another conference in Spain!

Despite presenting in totally different countries with totally different cultures, and with presentations on entirely different topics, one theme kept coming up—when will YAI host another International Conference? There is a clear desire for YAI’s expertise and input on I/DD issues on a global level. CEO George Contos stated, “These exciting initiatives underscore YAI’s commitment to expanding our international footprint via proactive and tangible actions. All our movements in this arena strategically align with our plan to reintroduce our acclaimed International Conference in the spring of 2020!”