Hi! My name is Kya Kraus and I am a Master of Public Health student. I decided to embark on a research adventure to understand the community perceptions of children with developmental disabilities in Ghana. With Dr. Mellissa Withers as my mentor, I developed a qualitative research study to interview 20 individuals in Ghana about the thoughts and beliefs people have about children with disabilities. We created an interview guide and I identified my target audience as parents/family members of children with disabilities, healthcare professionals, and community members. For purposes of the study, developmental disabilities in children include visual, hearing, physical, emotional, or intellectual disabilities.
I am working with an organization called Behavior Services Abroad who provides behavioral services for developmentally disabled children around the world and my goal is to help them understand the community perceptions that exist in Ghana regarding developmentally disabled children. Based on my research I recommended topics for five culturally tailored education classes that Behavior Services Abroad can develop to raise awareness and promote acceptance of these children in the local communities.
This research project is innovative and significant because it helps fill a major need. Research is limited regarding the community perceptions of developmentally disabled children in Africa, and educational tools and modules for communities are virtually nonexistent. I was in Ghana for a month with my 6-month baby girl, Kensie, and together we lived among the Ghanaians and learned from them so we could understand their culture and the beliefs that exist about children with developmental disabilities.