Tennessee Kindred Stories of Disability

A project of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) Public Policy Team, each year the VKC and The Arc Tennessee collaborate to produce a collection of stories that highlight the challenges individuals with disabilities and their families face as they navigate service systems and supports. Stories are collected by master's-level students from Vanderbilt University who interview the families as part of a course assignment. Stories are printed with subject photos taken by young photographers with disabilities from Able Voices and shared with Tennessee legislators during Disability Day(s) on the Hill and the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C., to educate them with first-hand accounts from constituents in their districts.

CALL FOR INTERVIEWS: Mental Health and Youth

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, The Arc Tennessee, and Able Voices are in search of volunteer interview subjects for the next issue of Kindred Stories of Disability. The topic of the 2024 issue is Mental Health and Youth. Your stories and experiences will educate Tennessee legislators and policymakers about the barriers that children and youth with disabilities and co-occurring mental health conditions face as they seek access to services. Examples of barriers may include social stigma, ableism, educator/provider misconceptions or lack of knowledge/resources, lack of access, or poverty.

We want to hear from Tennesseans to better understand the issues and barriers that children and youth with disabilities and co-occurring mental health conditions face in our state. We are seeking interviews with:

  • Parents and caregivers of children and youth with disabilities and co-occurring mental health conditions; and
  • Mental health care professionals and health care providers who serve children and youth with disabilities in their practice.

Participation commitment includes:

  • A one-hour conversation with a Vanderbilt student over Zoom, with questions shared in advance -- NOTE: Interviewees may choose to remain anonymous
  • Optional photo session to give young photographers with disabilities experience using photography for advocacy
  • Final review of your story, written by the student
  • Stories and photos may be printed and shared with legislators and policymakers during Tennessee Disability Day on the Hill.

Check out the 2024 Kindred Stories flyer for full details.

Interested in participating? Fill out the Kindred Stories Interviewee Interest Form here.

For more information, email Courtney Taylor.

Previous Issues [PDF]

Sharing Personal Experiences to Impact Public Policy

This project replication manual published in 2014, outlines the Kindred Stories of Disability project's process as it has been developed and is currently being coordinated at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Implementation of this program may vary for different organizations and classrooms, and all or part of the manual may be used in classroom application.

To view how one Kindred Stories family took their personal story to Disability Day on the Hill, watch the video below.

Disability Day on the Hill 2019 from Vanderbilt Kennedy Center on Vimeo.

For more information contact:

Courtney Taylor, M.Div.