News & Stories

April 12, 2021

Berry College hosts a panel about faith and disability

ROME, Ga. - Berry College recently hosted a panel discussion on opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities in their religious communities.

Berry Psychology Professor Michelle Haney met with panelists who have worked to expand their community

“I think the biggest take away … was that people with intellectual disabilities have historically faced barriers to being included in churches and other religious communities,” Haney said. “Inclusion is not “charity” but a way of connecting with people from different backgrounds that enhances everyone.

“We should talk to and interact with people with intellectual and other disabilities as adults and not as children. Also we can ask people with disabilities what we can do to support them and their caregivers.”

The panel included representatives from Hickory Log Personal Care Home for Men with Developmental Disabilities, Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta, Atlanta Jewish Community, L’Arche of Atlanta, Young Life Greater Milledgeville Area, and Transition Services Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency.

Panelists who shared their experiences on mental disabilities included Caroline Dempsey, self-advocate and artist and Sergio Vargas, self-advocate and leader in Capernaum Young Life.

By establishing these experiences, people with intellectual disabilities are able to be given an opportunity to be included in their religious communities and to be seen alike every other person while connecting and interacting in events of everyday life.

Haney also serves as the chair of the Psychology Department and directs the Applied Behavior Analysis/Autism Program. For more information about majoring in psychology, visit


Written by Public Relations Student Assistant Reed Couch

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