KSU’s Global Center for Social Change champions rights of people with disabilities


KENNESAW, Ga. – (Oct. 21, 2009) — Representatives from more than a dozen Arab World…

Georgia (Oct 26, 2009)KENNESAW, Ga. – (Oct. 21, 2009) — Representatives from more than a dozen Arab World countries and several American non-governmental organizations –– including members of the royal families of the United Arab Emirates and Kingdom of Bahrain –– will convene at Kennesaw State University Oct. 26-29 for an Arab-American Dialogue addressing workplace access issues for persons with disabilities.

The Arab-American Dialogue is sponsored by the Global Center for Social Change in KSU’s WellStar College of Health and Human Services, which has worked closely with several Arab universities and NGOS to develop initiatives for persons with disabilities. Confirmed attendees at the Dialogue include Sheika Jameela Mohammad Al-Qasimi of the United Arab Emirates, who serves as the director general of the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, and Her Excellency Muneera Bin Hindi, a member of the Shura Council of the Kingdom of Bahrain and president of Bahrain Mobility International.
“Kennesaw State is proud to sponsor such an important international dialogue, bringing together representatives from the Middle East and the United States to share their experience and challenges,” said KSU President Daniel S. Papp. “The Global Center for Social Change has taken the lead in working collaboratively with universities and NGOs in Arab World countries to explore ways to integrate people with disabilities into broader society. This conference will help us broaden our efforts and share successful models.”
The four-day convening will kick off with a visit by the Arab dignitaries to the Tommy Nobis Center to identify best practices at a facility serving people with disabilities. Then the group will travel on to the CNN Center, where the senior editor for Middle East Affairs will address them. Next on the itinerary is a stop at the Carter Center – where the delegation will meet with former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young – followed by a tour of The King Center, accompanied by the global statesman and former Atlanta mayor.
“People with disabilities are quite likely the segment of the world’s population which experiences the greatest degree of discrimination, and they face similar issues globally” said WellStar’s Associate Dean for Community Partnerships and Global Initiatives and Director of the Global Center for Social Change Ben Johnson. “By working together as a group we can identify common problems, then we can call on each other as experts to help solve these problems.”
According to the World Health Organization, 10 percent of the world’s population – or about
650 million people – live with some form of impairment or disability. That number is expected
to increase as the population grows and as medical advances prolong life expectancies.
The upcoming dialogue is another milestone in the Global Center’s efforts to improve the lives of persons with disabilities in the U.S. and across the globe. In summer 2008, Kennesaw State entered into a partnership with the Egyptian University Sports Federation to advance opportunities in athletics for persons with disabilities. Earlier in the year, KSU entered into similar agreements with Alexandria University, Helwan University and Ain Shams University in Egypt to establish mutual programs for educating people with disabilities and those who teach, coach, live and work with them. In January 2009, the Libyan Paralympic Committee awarded the university a gold medal recognizing the Global Center for Social Change for the work it does in improving the lives of persons with disabilities worldwide.
“People with disabilities deserve greater access to the workplace,” said Harry Stern, the Global Center’s director of development. “It’s an issue of human rights.”
International Dialogue leaders will include Reham Amaish, vice president of the Families & Friends Society of Persons with Disabilities in Jordan; Roland Tamraz, director general of the Al Zawrak NGO in Lebanon; Nora Al Dahery, general manager of Al Nibras International School in Kuwait; Batoul Muhieddin S. Khalifa, assistant professor of mental health, Qatar University in Qatar; Ibrahim Fahmy Kharboush, vice-dean for postgraduate studies and research, Alexandria University in Egypt; and Tarif Bakdash, secretary general, National Central Council for Disability in Syria; among others. Each of the presenters will provide their perspectives on the issues and potential solutions for improving access to the workplace by people with disabilities.
Panels at the Dialogue will include:
·         General Dialogue Panel: Successful models for integrating people with disabilities into the workplace
·         Supportive Community Panel: How employers, family, job coaches, the media and others can assist in the integration of persons with disabilities in the workplace
·         Education Panel: The role of public and private educational institutions
·         Health & Wellness Panel: Impact of nutrition, emotional well-being, sports and management of conditions
·         Employment / Employability Panel: Training, coaching and business policy
The goal of the Dialogue is to produce a set of desired objectives and outcomes – with an implementable action plan – to positively impact the employability of people with disabilities.
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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 70 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including new doctorates in education, business and nursing. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 22,300 from 142 countries.


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. 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. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu