Fall 2012

Fall 2012
[learning to live a perfectly imperfect life]

Life with An Extra Chromosome (Partners in Policymaking)


I climbed into the van, taking a seat next to Kelly, a young woman with Down syndrome. As I situated myself for the ride, Kelly did the same... popping in her favorite CD, throwing on her headphones and cracking open a can of Diet Cherry Coke.

My life was changed.

*****

I was sitting in a room, surrounded by people I had met only moments before, listening to a woman named Kathie Snow talk about "People-First Language."

My life was changed.

*****

In 1987, Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities created a ground-breaking, innovative training program called Partners in Policymaking to teach parents and self-advocates the power of advocacy to change the way people with disabilities are supported, viewed, taught, live and work. Since then, this program has spread nationally and internationally.

I was fortunate enough to be a part of South Dakota's Partners in Policymaking Class Year 15. For 1 weekend each month, from November 2006 through April 2007, I traveled (okay... I bounced along the interstate with Carter in my belly) with several others to Pierre, our state capitol (about 3 hours away) to attend this training.

I can't make a list right now of the things that I learned. Instead, what I learned is sprinkled throughout my life from now on. What I learned comes through in my thinking... in my writing... in my actions.

My teachers? The individuals I rode with to Pierre. The other parents in the class. The individuals in our class who had disabilities themselves. The speakers we had during our sessions. And myself.

I know there are other states with programs like this... South Dakota is now taking applications for Year 18, and if you want to be a part of it, visit South Dakota Advocacy.

My life was changed. It really was.

1 comments:

Terri said...

Hi Carin, it was great to meet you this weekend, the convention was great! I am enjoying your blog very much.

Partners changed my life too--nothing like it!