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.
Hard to believe that there is only 1 session left. Just 5 months ago, I started this journey with 29 other individuals from across the State, most of them strangers. If it were not for this class, I would probably have never gotten to know them. I am sure that our paths would have crossed at some point as we advocated for individuals with disabilities, but I would not have gotten to know them. Today, I consider each and every one of them a friend. Each one has a story to tell. Each one has gifts that they share with other families in their region to help make the lives of individuals with disabilities a whole lot better.
Session 5 was focused on the importance of Social Media and Grassroots Organizing.
The Social Media discussion (Online Activism) was led by Seth Oldmixon, who was Skype’d in from Washington DC. Seth spent a considerable amount of time helping us better utilize each and every tool that social media has to offer to get our message out into the public. While I am familiar with each method, I will admit that I am not a great user of any one in particular. I think that I have underestimated the power of this media
We heard from Lisa Pugh on Media Strategies. Lisa relayed a story of how she ended up with an exclusive interview with Bill Clinton during his first term campaign for President.
The Grassroots Organizing strategies was led by Amy Judy. Amy has spent time helping organize for Presidential candidates. Amy shared many stories, particularly her time in Iowa during the caucuses. We heard her successes. We heard how many things issues start at the grassroots level and how they become real issues. How to build coalitions, in many cases we need to think outside the box to build a strong team. Amy left us with a quote from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world….Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
As we have become accustom, Friday night was a more relaxed evening. Peter Leidy, celebrated singer/songwriter/trainer in the disability movement in the US performed for us. I have heard Peter perform before, but since one of our classmates knew his wife in the professional world, Peter was on his best behavior. Peter was able to convince some members to dance during his songs. It was a lot of fun seeing people let their hair down. People who I did not expect to have much rhythm, for which I am a proud member, really got into it.
I am looking forward to what is in store for our final session in June. At the same time I have a bit of sadness as I will not be spending 1 weekend a month with my new found friends. I am sure we will make the most out of our last “official” weekend together.