cover art for Breaking Barriers: How JDS Creative Academy is Empowering Adults with Developmental Disabilities

Think Inclusive

Breaking Barriers: How JDS Creative Academy is Empowering Adults with Developmental Disabilities

Season 11, Ep. 34

About the Guest(s): Diane Strand is an accomplished entrepreneur, influential leader in the creative industry, and an advocate for inclusion through the arts. With a rich background that includes credentials from iconic shows such as "Friends," "General Hospital," and "Veronica's Closet," Diane's expertise spans across production and acting. Alongside her professional acting partner and husband Scott Strand, Diane has co-authored a guide to breaking into the acting industry. She is a leading force behind the JDS Creative Academy, a non-profit organization aiming to promote inclusivity and creative learning for individuals with a variety of learning styles, including those with developmental disabilities. Diane's work is centered around her belief in the transformative power of the arts and her commitment to opening up creative opportunities for all.

Episode Summary: In this episode of the Think Inclusive podcast, Tim Villegas engages in an insightful conversation with Diane Strand, a passionate advocate for inclusive practices and the power of the arts in education and workforce development. The dialogue delves into Diane's personal experiences with exclusion and inclusion, her journey in the creative industry, and her transformative work with JDS Creative Academy.

Beginning with Diane's own encounter with dyslexia and the pivotal moment she felt included through the school play, the episode dives into how these experiences shaped her understanding of inclusion and led to her embrace of the arts as a universal connector. Diane discusses her dedication to helping individuals, especially those with developmental disabilities, find their passion and purpose through a variety of creative endeavors. The conversation also explores the adaptable curriculum Diane has crafted, with the goal of fostering creative thinking and practical skills among learners of all abilities.


Key Takeaways:

  • The significance of inclusion in fostering a sense of value and belonging among individuals.
  • The arts as a powerful tool for inclusivity and learning across various educational and workforce settings.
  • The personal growth and development that can stem from pushing through exclusion and embracing one's capabilities.
  • JDS Creative Academy as an innovative model for teaching video production and multimedia skills to a diverse learning community.
  • Diane's approach to curriculum development which prioritizes hands-on, tailored learning experiences to fit individual needs.


Diane Strand's website:

JDS Creative Academy:


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