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Raphael Travis

Raphael Travis’s research, practice and consultancy work emphasizes positive youth development over the life-course, resilience, and civic engagement. He also investigates music, especially Hip-Hop culture, as a source of health and well-being in people's lives. Dr. Travis is an Associate Professor and BSW Program Director at Texas State University in the School of Social Work.
Photo: Raphael Travis

Amy Coleman

Amy Coleman, MD is CEO and Founder of Wellsmart and is author of the book, “Discovering Your Own Doctor Within.” Coleman has taken care of people in all sorts of places: on airplanes, boats, and battlefields, in the wilderness, schools and in homes. She’s helped people receive care in countries where there was no formal system for access to primary care doctors.
Photo: Amy Coleman

Jessica Fechtor

Jessica Fechtor is an author, blogger and PhD candidate in Jewish Literature at Harvard University, where she has received numerous awards for her research and teaching. Her bestselling memoir Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home won the 2015 Living Now Book Award and drew critical acclaim from The Wall Street Journal, and The Forward, among other outlets.
Photo: Jessica Fechtor

Employment and Disability

An estimated 386 million of the global working-age population live with disability, per the International Labor Organization, and unemployment is up to 80 percent for this group in some countries. The picture is hardly encouraging in the industrialized world, where claims for disability benefits are as high as 600 percent in some nations. For persons with disabilities, and for workers who become disabled on the job, access to work is often hindered by discriminatory practices and attitudes.


Spanning prenatal development to age eight, early childhood provides the building blocks for learning and participation throughout an individual’s life. The first 1000 days of a baby’s life are the most critical to the development of neural pathways that lead to cognitive, linguistic and socio-emotional pathways, predictors of positive outcomes later in life.

Illuminations: Growing Old with Dignity

Never in history have so many people lived so long. People aged 60 and older now make ups 12.3 per cent of the global population. Thanks to leaps in medical science, technology and economic opportunity, this includes individuals who have acquired disability earlier in life as well as the general population aging into disability. Challenges and opportunities abound. How can families and guardians, clinicians and direct support staff provide the care our diverse elderly communities require?

Youth Reach

Young people with or without disabilities want what all young people want: a chance to learn, work and connect. Today’s youth are the leaders of tomorrow, the ones who will be at the forefront and contributing to the well-being of their communities when today’s leaders have passed on. Yet why are so many of today’s youth on a narrow and marginalized path to their future? Up to one in five youth in the United States experience a mental health challenge each year, and a whopping 70 percent of youth in juvenile justice institutions have some sort of disability.

Minding Transitions

What is the impact of life transitions within the context of overall lifespan development and why is so disruptive at times? The traditional life cycle of human beings includes infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and aging; transition periods between different cycles is often downplayed or ignored by those with authority. Transition needs are different for the veteran coming home from war than it would be for a college graduate entering the workforce, for instance.

Living Well

Realizing optimal health is a goal for us all. The more robust we are, the more we can achieve what we want in life. Yet vulnerable groups, including veterans, indigenous peoples and people with disabilities generally participate in wellness programs and health screening activities to a lesser extent than the able-bodied population.

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