Kennesaw State University to partner with the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities

It is estimated that 10 percent of the world’s population (700 million people) are disabled. For the United States‚ that equates to approximately 30 million people. However‚ more than 60 million people – a very conservative estimate – living on the continent of Africa have some type of disability‚ a six−month survival rate for new spinal injuries and minimal financial assistance.

Georgia (Nov 17, 2006) — It is estimated that 10 percent of the world’s population (700 million people) are disabled. For the United States‚ that equates to approximately 30 million people. However‚ more than 60 million people – a very conservative estimate – living on the continent of Africa have some type of disability‚ a six−month survival rate for new spinal injuries and minimal financial assistance.

The African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (1999−2009)‚ a continental initiative launched by the African Union to improve the quality of life for the estimated 60 million Africans with disabilities‚ has selected Kennesaw State University as its American partner to combat these issues. The African Decade is a consortium of organizations that include the African Union‚ the African Rehabilitation Institute‚ African governments‚ UN agencies and nongovernmental disabled people’s organizations.

To help Africans with disabilities become more self−sufficient‚ the university has created the Kennesaw State University International Academy of Disability Rights. A ceremonial signing of the cooperative agreement between the two institutions was held Nov. 16.

“The goal of the African Decade and KSU is to promote human rights for people with disabilities in a variety of ways‚” said Ben Johnson‚ Associate Dean for Community Partnerships and Global Initiatives for Kennesaw State's WellStar College of Health and Human Services.

Johnson‚ who will head the academy‚ said that research shows that nearly 73 percent of Africans with disabilities were economically inactive as opposed to approximately 39 percent of the non−disabled population‚ resulting in significantly higher levels of poverty among the disabled. Africans with disabilities also experience a disproportional rate of disease including HIV/AIDS‚ TB and cardiovascular disease when compared to the able−bodied population.

“To combat this‚ KSU officials plan to develop a unique curriculum to train persons with disabilities to help them become economically sufficient and take on leadership roles within their communities‚” said WellStar College of Health and Human Services Dean Richard Sowell.

In its first year‚ the academy along with its local nonprofit partners – BlazeSports America and UpReach International – hopes to reach hundreds of disabled people through various training programs.

“We will target countries such as Kenya‚ Ethiopia and South Africa and expand from there‚” Johnson said. “We hope to directly impact millions of people with disabilities throughout the African continent.”

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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