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.
What a great way to start my Partners in Policy-making classes. On Tuesday afternoon I received a call from the Board for Developmental Disabilities asking if I can come into town early Wednesday to testify at the Family Care Audit hearing at the Capital in our continued effort to lift the enrollment caps. I was already scheduled to come in for our bi-monthly Board meeting, I just needed to make arrangements with the 2 individuals I was giving a ride into Madison with me. A total of 5 Board members had the opportunity to speak at this hearing.
On Thursday, Sharon Lewis, the Commissioner of the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, spent time with the Board and talked a little bit about the Partners training.
On Friday, we started the Partners classes. There is going to be a total of 6 sessions. If the remaining 5 sessions are half as good as the first one, this is going to be a great experience.
Our opening speaker was Sue Swenson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. Ms Swenson spoke of her experiences in her Partners training as well as her life experiences as a mother. It was a great way to start the program.
Our first order of business was to understand the history of the Disability movement both nationally and in Wisconsin. Starting in 1848 when institutions were created, to the 1940’s when Hitler was beginning his eugenic movement, starting with individuals with developmental disabilities in the mental institutions as part of the Holocaust, to returning soldiers from World War II with physical disabilities. From the 1960’s civil rights awareness campaigns to the signing of the American with Disabilities Act by President George H.W. Bush.
We had the pleasure of hearing from a gentleman and member of our class that was a student in Pennsylvania as a part of PARC vs. Pennsylvania case from 1969-71. We also heard from a man who was an active member of bringing reforms to Wisconsin.
We learned about Social Capital from a couple of self advocates from Illinois. Social Capital is defined by the World Bank as “The social relationships… that enable people to coordinate actions to achieve desired goals.
I am looking forward to the future classes to expand on the knowledge that I have learned the last 14 years as a parent and the additional knowledge of the last 3 years as a Board member for the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities to become a better advocate.