How the McCoy-Jespersen Family’s gift for research in positive psychology is a living memorial to their son Martin’s positive, joyful spirit. Featured in Summer 2011 Discovery
Martin McCoy-Jespersen brought exceptional joy and love to his family and all who knew him. His parents describe him as "a bright light and always upbeat….Martin demonstrated what it's like to be open, accepting, present, and able to enjoy the moment and how sharing the joy of simply being enhances our relationships and enriches the lives of those around us….Martin’s great purpose was to live a happy life, engaging others and communicating to learn more about them and what they might have in common."
The ground-breaking article "Toward a Positive Psychology in Mental Retardation" by VKC Director Elisabeth Dykens led David Jespersen and Leila McCoy, Martin’s parents, to the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Visiting the Center, David Jespersen saw that the Center’s research focused not just on challenges but also on the abilities and strengths of individuals with disabilities.
The Martin McCoy-Jespersen Discovery Grant in Positive Psychology, their gift in Martin’s memory, is being used to support two innovative research projects. The first is a SENSE Theatre Summer Camp to assess the effectiveness of theatre as a social-emotional treatment for children with autism. The second is a study of the spirituality, supports, and well-being of youth and adults with significant disabilities.
Discovery Grants encourage VKC researchers to conduct multidisciplinary, innovative pre-clinical or clinical pilot studies in preparation for submitting competitive grant applications to federal agencies or foundations. They are made possible by the generous gifts of individuals, like David Jespersen and Leila McCoy, as well as by members of the Nicholas Hobbs Society.
Through the Martin McCoy-Jespersen Discovery Grants in Positive Psychology, Martin's parents are providing others "a way to be more like Martin" and for each to find, "in their own way, the fullness of life."
Last Updated: 11/1/2012 3:36:42 PM
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