On June 2 SAM SE hosted their 10th Annual Regional Conference. The conference focused on celebrating our accomplishments but also moving forward and continuing to have our voices heard and can be best explained by this quote from former US Senator Barbara Mikulski, “Each One of Us Can Make a Difference; Together We Make Change!”
40 people with disabilities, and 20 support allies enjoyed a variety of workshops and resources centered around getting people more control over their own lives. Particular attention was giving to empowering people to effectively advocate for themselves to direct support staff, case managers, and policy makers. Attendees appreciated the focus sharing “I feel more educated about my choices and activity in the community” and “All info at workshops will help make my life better.”
Holding true to the pillars of self-advocacy, the conference delivered this helpful information in an accessible way. One advocate responded to an evaluation question, stating, “I was able to be heard without people shouting over me.”
The conference also honored local disability rights leaders on their recent achievement of graduating from the Self-Advocacy 101 course within the Disability Equality Training Series (DETS). DETS focuses on assertiveness and communication skills, the rights of individuals with disabilities, networking, and civic engagement. The event closed with dinner, followed by bingo and a dance, holding true to another pillar of the self-advocacy movement, disability rights work should also be fun!