Michaela Cisney earned a bachelor's of science in community health, with minors in contemporary dance and nutrition science from IUB in 2012 before deciding to return and participate in the master of public health program with a concentration in behavioral, social, and community health. Michaela chose the School of Public Health-Bloomington after working with families at a local service organization, “The connections between poverty and health and the web of factors that influence individual's choices and health outcomes confirmed my desire to earn an MPH,” she noted.
Making an International Impact
As part of her education, Michaela volunteered at a residential care facility in India for children with disabilities, and was struck by the challenges the children and families faced in low-income countries. “Children with disabilities in low-income countries, the families of those children, and the efforts of their communities to provide care and rehabilitation are some of the most neglected areas in global health research and practice,” she said. In response to her experience, Michaela spent three years further researching the need, and in 2014, after a return trip to India, established the Priyam Global Initiative with her husband.
The organization’s mission is to maximize the quality of life of children with unique abilities worldwide; replace global misunderstanding of disabilities with appreciation and equality; and end preventable child disability. Working with partner organizations around the globe, Priyam has adopted three main strategies: capacity building, advocacy, and special initiatives.
“We support the existing efforts of our partner organizations and work closely with local stakeholders to provide resources such as trained volunteers, targeted funding, and monitoring and evaluation, always with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life for children. Within advocacy, our aim is to create new ways of thinking about children and abilities and to emphasize the importance of children with disabilities and their families in global health and development agendas. We also hope to collaborate with our partner organizations to design and implement long-term initiatives such as early intervention or childhood disability prevention initiatives. Up to 80% of the disabilities in the communities where we work can be prevented with proper maternal care during pregnancy and the postpartum period.”
How to Get Involved
Volunteer: Priyam works to recruit, train, and place volunteers in flexible volunteer positions any time during the year. Students who are interested in volunteering in India can learn more here.
Donate: Interested parties can also donate here or contact Michaela for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org. 100% of donations support initiatives with our global partner in India.