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Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities

MN LEND Fellows Reach Out to State's East African Communities Through the Minnesota Act Early Network

Ashwak Hassan and Barite Gemada MN LEND 2015-16 Fellows

Barite Gemada and Ashwak Hassan, Fellows in the Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Program (MN LEND), are helping to promote early screening and intervention services in their respective Oromo and Somali communities – two of the largest East African communities in the Twin Cities. Gemada noted the absence of an Oromo Act Early delegate in MN Act Early and stepped into the role. She partnered with Hassan, who further aimed to destigmatize mental health conditions in the Somali community. Together they created Oromo and Somali videos for YouTube and social media to promote early screening and intervention services as part of their MN LEND projects.

Early Screening/Intervention Video in Oromo

Oromo is spoken by about 30 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Egypt and is the third largest language used in Africa. 2015-16 MN LEND Fellow Barite Gemada speaks this language and was struck by the lack of resources about early childhood development in Oromo for her significant and growing community in Minnesota, so she decided to do something. Here is a video she created for the Oromo community in Minnesota regarding the importance of early screening before a child reaches school-age.

Barite Gemada
Barite Gemada is a 2016 graduate of the Master of Social Work program at the University of Minnesota. Her concentration was Families and Children with a focus on Clinical Mental Health. She received her bachelor's degree in Child Psychology with a minor in Public Health from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Ms. Gemada has a variety of experience with children and adults affected by neurodevelopmental disabilities. She is currently employed at Fraser, where she works with children with autism as a Developmental/Therapy Trainee in the day treatment program. She is also employed at NorthEast Residence, where she works with adults affected by numerous developmental disabilities and mental health conditions. Ms. Gemada plans to become a clinical social worker with a focus on families and children impacted by neurodevelopmental disabilities. Through the MN LEND Fellowship program, she gained skills necessary to provide culturally appropriate diagnosis and treatment of developmental disabilities, as well as providing community education.

Early Screening/Intervention Video in Somali

2015-16 MN LEND Fellow Ashwak Hassan created this video about MN Act Early Network to reach more Somali families on the importance of early screening and intervention as part of her MN LEND project.

Ashwak Hassan
Ashwak Hassan completed her Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology and her graduate certificate in conflict resolution and mediation in 2009 at the Golden Gate University in San Francisco. She has been providing psychotherapy, individual and family skills training to adults and children of all ages in the day treatment and in home settings since 2009. Ms. Hassan has experience in DBT, play, relational, behavioral, and developmental skills training and psychotherapy for children on the Autism Spectrum. For the past several years, Ms. Hassan has dedicated her career to doing behavioral therapy with children on the autism spectrum and bringing awareness to the Somali community to families that are impacted by neurodevelopmental disorders. Ms. Hassan has a passion for working with families and children and currently provides services in district 196 elementary schools. She is fluent in Somali, English, and German.