I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.
Nothing About Us Without Us
I had the honor of attending the Third Annual Self-Determination Wisconsin Conference recently. The event was attended by over 350 people. From self advocates to parents. From care givers to educators. Everyone who attended the conference were there for one reason, to make sure that individuals with developmental disabilities have the tools they need to self direct their lives successfully.
The event was co-sponsored by the Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (http://wi-bpdd.org/) and In Control Wisconsin (their website is under construction, but here a facebook link http://www.facebook.com/pages/In-Control-Wisconsin/115857761792842.
There were over 30 session to choose from, for most, it was tough choices. I chose Stories of Self-Determination in Family Care, How do Support Brokers Work, Family Care and IRIS Ombudsman Program and Game Plan for Employment. Each session offered a great deal of insight for me as my son gets ready to transition from grade school to middle school, then to high school and finally to adulthood. Every thing that I am currently learing, hopefully will make us better prepared along the way.
Watching as the self advocates tell their stories, both successful and less then dsired outcomes, I can't wait for my son to become a part of these conferences. I come home so excited about the possibilities that lie ahead for him.
The excitement just comes out of the self advocates. I gave a ride to an individual to and from the conference. The ride to the Dells, was pretty quiet, just some small talk. But after the man spent time with his peers, I don't think we stopped talking all of the way home.
Here is what the self advocates have come up with:
Wisconsin Self-Advocates Dreams and Goals
Wisconsin self-advocates want to live their life in the community and be in charge of their lives.
We know that many people in Wisconsin support self-determination. Much has been done to support changes to promote community life and self-direction. However, there is so much work still to be done. It’s an ongoing process that will take all of us to work together.
In order for us to participate in our communities...
We need accessible and affordable transportation.
In order for us to be healthier and in better shape…
We need opportunities to exercise. We need information on how to eat better. And we need easier access to medical care, including doctors, dentists, mental health specialists and other therapists.
In order to be in charge of our lives and be dignified…
We need unreasonable rules out of our life. We need to make our own informed decisions about our lives.
In order for us to feel safe and respected where we live and work, and in our communities...
We all need to live in the most integrated environment possible. People must live in safe communities and neighborhoods. We will not tolerate a lack of respect for these values.
In order to ensure equal access to all types of employment and education…
We need to offer employment or education as a first option and empower people to take advantage of opportunities to work or to go to school.
We have spent a lot of time speaking to each other. Now, we want to take our message into our communities. We want to educate people in our communities about the supports we need to live the life we want. We are ready for you to join us? Will you help us?
For our part, we want to help ourselves. Each of us will do what we can to improve our own life. We will teach ourselves new skills, look for work, lose weight, eat healthier, exercise, speak up, and get our own homes. In other words, we want to find ways to reach our own American dream!