A faculty member at The University of Southern Mississippi has been invited to attend a meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C.
According to a press release, Royal Walker, executive director of the Institute for Disability Studies will take part in an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act. The event will take place Nov. 15. Walker currently oversees the everyday actions at the Institute’s branches in Jackson, Long Beach and Hattiesburg, and offices in Tupelo and the Delta.
Walker said the Act began in 1963 as part of an initiative started by President Kennedy in an attempt to address issues people with developmental disabilities may face. “We are going to celebrate that, but it is a celebration of work, really reflecting on the past and where we have come from and where we are today,” Walker said. “This act really is the arm that opens up and provides training, tries advocacy and buys funding to make sure that people with developmental disabilities and intellectual disabilities are a part of the community.”
He said the event will be about looking at the future of this organization. Throughout the celebration, attendees will discuss how the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act can change for the better, in hopes of also assisting those who have intellectual disabilities.
Walker said this act has helped decrease the number of abusive and unhealthy institutions in America. This legislation has greatly assisted in the act of giving every person the freedom to be involved in activities going on in his or her local area is the “recognition that all people are citizens of this country, and should be treated with dignity and respect and have a right to be a part of the fabric of their community.”
Walker said he received the invitation via phone call from the Association of University Centers on Disability, an organization that had been looking for someone with leadership experience and qualities. He previously served as president of the association.
According to a press release, the White House Office of Public Engagement partnered with the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the National Council on Disability to produce this event. The meeting will feature a select group of people from around the country.
“It really is an honor for the university to ask to be a part of trying to design where we go in the future in this country to address the needs of persons with disabilities in general,” Walker said.
According to www.usm.edu, this celebration will be held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House. The event will start at noon and last until 3:30 p.m.