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Abstract

Background: Experience in multidisciplinary collaboration among healthcare providers, leaders in public health, and educators is essential to effectively address the diverse needs of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families.

Purpose: We describe three participatory action research (PAR) projects from an interdisciplinary training program, which used experiential learning to enhance leadership competencies and promote inclusive services. Trainees report their leadership growth as providers and advocates for children with I/DD using experiential learning through PAR.

Approach: Trainees discuss their engagement with organizations serving children with I/DD and ways that experiential learning supported leadership skill development, commitment to inclusive person- and family-centered practices, and contributions to disability advocacy and support programs.

Conclusion: PAR is a beneficial experiential learning approach to foster interdisciplinary collaboration through inclusive community engagement. Related training programs may adopt a similar approach to build leadership skills among professionals in health care, public health, and education, and promote optimal health outcomes for children with I/DD.

Plain Language Summary

In this article, we describe three research projects that used a method called experiential learning to improve leadership skills and program care for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families. We find that when healthcare providers, public health leaders, and educators work together in this way, it can lead to positive health outcomes for children with I/DD.

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