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.
Last week, I attended my bi-monthly meeting for the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (http://www.wi-bpdd.org/). I was especially looking forward to this meeting for two reasons.
First, it was my first opportunity to meet our new Executive Director, Beth Swedeen. While I was the Chair of the search committee, I was not part of the interview team. I was part of the team that rated exams which in turn led to the opportunity for candidates to obtain interviews.
The second and probably the most exciting for me was the opportunity to meet 5 new Board members. While a family issue prevented 1 of the new members to attend, it was an exciting time to finally meet the members that we as a Board has approved and awaited Governor approval. 3 of the new members are young men, each under 28 with a developmental disability. The other new member in attendence was a mother with 2 children with a developmental disability.
What I enjoy about these meetings is the diversity of the Board. while we strive for a good racial mix, it is the diversity of the Board as a whole. We have consumers/self-advocates, parents, service providers and governmental agenices. We also have a protection and advocay and a univeristy representation.
As we work on our federally mandated state plan, which takes effect in 2012, we are learning how the data collected over the last year or so affects the new members, in some ways that we may not have thought about. But the lively debate does open my eyes to the importance of of a diversified Board. I like the idea that we as a group, a diversified group, are making plans for making system change over the next 5 years to better the lifes of people with developmental disabilities.
By the time this plan is over, my son will be 19. At 19 his transition to living an independent life will have been in progress for a couple of years. So my interest in the goals of this plan will truly affect the life of my son. I have been told, what you thinks is best for your son is probably a good indication of what is best for a lot of people, not all, but a lot.
As I have said many times before, I am truly amazed and inspired at the stories from the self-advocates and I hope that in the years to come, I will have similiar stories to share with people.