Anyone who has ever wanted to develop effective advocacy skills, for themselves or for a family member, should consider the nationally acclaimed Partners in Policymaking Program. The program is now accepting applications for its nine-month leadership training program. Many participants have described it as a life-changing experience. Individuals with disabilities and parents of young children with developmental disabilities will be trained at no cost in monthly sessions, starting this fall. Over the course of eight sessions, participants will learn how to become knowledgeable, confident and effective advocates for themselves, their children, and others with disabilities.
This groundbreaking program was developed by the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities more than 25 years ago. “Graduates report that they gained a greater understanding of disability law and policies and increased their self-confidence in advocating for their needs,” said Colleen Wieck, executive director of the council. “Many have become leaders in their own communities as they speak up for people with disabilities.” The program is now offered in almost every state and in many foreign countries.
The eight sessions cover the history of the disability and self-advocacy movements, inclusive education, supported living, and avenues to influence county, state and federal legislative processes. To make it easier to participate, the two-day meetings are all held on Fridays and Saturdays, from September to May. No session is held in December.
The program is free for the individuals selected for the program, since costs are covered by a federal grant. Adults with disabilities and parents of young children with developmental disabilities are encouraged to apply.
Child care and respite allowances are given, and overnight accommodations are also provided for those who have to travel from outside the metro area to attend. Mileage and meals are also covered by the grant. All eight sessions will be held at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott in Bloomington.
Limited to 40 participants, all of whom must be Minnesota residents, the class members are selected by a panel of program graduates and council representatives. The first session for the 2015-2016 program year is scheduled for the weekend of September 25-26. Presenters include local experts and nationally recognized leaders in school inclusion, community organizing, governmental processes, and disability issues. Applications are due by July 10. Those selected to participate in the program must attend all meetings and complete homework assignments between the sessions.
The Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities introduced the Partners in Policymaking program in 1987. Since then, more than 900 Minnesotans have completed the program. More than 27,000 people have participated in similar programs offered worldwide.
“This program is based on the belief that systems change is best brought about through the efforts of those most affected by them, and we seek to arm these individuals with the tools needed to be successful in the public policy arena,” said Wieck.
For further information or to receive an application form, interested individuals can go to the web page www.mngts.org/partnersinpolicymaking. Dolly Parker of GTS Educational Events may be emailed at [email protected] if there are questions.