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2/20/12 - MSU Martin Center administrator honored for advocacy

A case manager at Mississippi State's T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability is being recognized for her efforts to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Judy Duncan recently was honored as the Advocate of the Year by the Starkville Commission on Disability for her role with a center program that helps people with significant physical disabilities to become artists.

The EXPRESS Yourself program works to unlock the "inner artist" in those with cerebral palsy and other disabilities, which limit movement and communication. Program volunteers serve as "trackers," developing communication with the participants and acting as their arms and hands to paint the canvases.

Funded through grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission and other sources, EXPRESS Yourself has aided numerous persons in communicating and expressing themselves who otherwise wouldn't have had opportunities to do so.

Duncan expressed appreciation for the recognition, especially since it helps bring additional awareness to the Martin Center and the EXPRESS Yourself program. The real reward comes from working with dozens of artists over the years, she added.

"I believe everyone has wonderful things to say," she explained. "I feel fortunate to help some people unlock their gifts inside of them."

The MSU program follows principles first conceived by New Jersey-based abstract artist Tim Lefens more than a decade ago.

Tiffany Hamlin, chair of Starkville's Commission on Disability, said Duncan's efforts exemplify the award's purpose--to spotlight those who care about others enough to get involved.

"It's great when someone sees a need and helps meet it," Hamlin said.

Duncan, along with fellow EXPRESS Yourself tracker Laurie Craig, are organizers of a permanent art gallery at the Martin Center. Additionally, they collaborate with other locations to showcase the works.

Duncan holds an MSU master's degree in counselor education from MSU. She also is a paralegal studies graduate of Mississippi University for Women.

Robbie S. Ward | University Relations

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