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.
4 sessions down only 2 left. It seems like yesterday that I started the Partners in Policymaking class. We started by learning the history of the disability rights movement. This past session we had the opportunity to speak to a couple of legislators and lobbyists.
I had a previous commitment and I was not able to attend the meeting with Sen Luther Olsen and Sen Mark Miller. I heard from my classmates that they were both very informative. I arrived just in time to hear from a couple of lobbyists whose primary lobbying is for disability issues. There was some good give and take in interacting with the lobbyists. They did not shy away from any question asked, including the issue of contributions to campaigns or Super PACS. The general consensus is that the majority of lobbyists do not give large sums of money to campaigns. They advocate for a general issue and educate the legislators on how the issues affect constituents, in our case the disability community.
We heard from a parent who told her personal story of triumph in getting her child fully integrated into the classroom. We heard her personal struggles, but she was able to overcome them. It was a very powerful presentation, I had hoped that her son would make an appearance at the end of the story, unfortunately, her son passed away a few years after he graduated from high school.
The next day we heard from Family Voices (http://www.familyvoices.org/). They stress the importance of family centered care and providing necessary resources. Next we heard from Survival Coalition (http://survivalcoalitionwi.org/). A coalition of about 35-40 various groups from around the State. By listening to these 2 organizations, we learned the power of bringing so many different groups together to present one message, one that stresses the person. When 30-40 groups are bringing the same message, it gives a more unified message. They each help to educate both those affected by legislation and those who legislate.
Finally, we learned the importance of tying in your personal story to the issues at hand. We shared these stories in the groups that we feel the most connected with. My chosen group is increasing self-determination and self-direction.
I have a project that I have had in my mind for the last 5 years or so. The idea has been floated past the Government Accountability Board and they have showed some interest. I shared the idea at our first Partners introduction. Since that day 4 months ago, other Partners from other parts of the State are experiencing how this idea could be a great benefit. In one case, a parent wishes that the idea were implemented sooner rather than later.
I will share this idea with you in the coming months.