What Is Idaho Partners in Policymaking?
Class of 2016 Idaho Partners in Policymaking
Idaho Partners in Policymaking is an innovative leadership development program for adults with developmental disabilities and parents of children with disabilities. Partners receive information, training, resources, and skill building so they may have the best possible life experiences for themselves and for their children. Partners in Policymaking was created in 1986 by Colleen Wieck, Executive Director of the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities. The program was developed specifically to teach people with disabilities and families of young children with disabilities to:
- Work on long-term change.
- Become active partners with policymakers who will shape policies that impact people with disabilities and families.
- Understand possibilities and how to create them.
I am outspoken and passionate about the things that are important to me, like family, friends, and advocating for families who have kids with special needs. I like sharing information with others and teaching others what I have learned from experience. I get excited when I see people take that information and become a strong advocate for themselves and their families. I am a hard worker and loyal to my friends.
The things that are most important to me are my family and friends. Nothing makes me happier than getting to spend time with those I love and care about. I love learning new things and teaching others what I have learned. I enjoy being an advocate for others and also my family. I can spend hours on my computer catching up with friends across the country, or trying to research and learn about a subject that is important to me. I love all kinds of music but especially old school country music. I love my Southern heritage, boots and spending time outside. I am a horrible house keeper and I am okay with that.
Through Partners in Policymaking I have gained incredible knowledge and a better understanding of what we will be facing as our son Jake ages into adult life and adult services. As I make preparation for an adult service plan, I feel I will be able to create more meaning goals for him. I have also found myself allowing my son to experience as much independence as possible so he can reach a higher level of daily living. It is not easy to step back and allow my son to fail but I have learned that we all actually deserve this experience because this is also how we learn. I am doing my best to give him as much support as he wants and not as much support as a scared mommy needs. Through Partners I have gained a renewed ability to see his abilities and not his deficits.
Being a Partners in Policymaking participant has been an experience of a lifetime for me. The knowledge I have gained will help me in most every part of my life. The chance to meet so many important people from the disability community is probably beyond what I would gain in any other program. The most important part of my experience in PIP is the friendships I have made. I have gained another family and one I will cherish for a lifetime.
2016 Graduate of Idaho Partners in Policymaking
It was March 28th, 2011, and I was working late one evening. My wife called me and just said “come home now!” and she hung up.
When I arrived at home an ambulance and fire truck were parked in front of our home. I ran inside to find my 8 year old daughter Danielle lying on the floor, her face blue and surrounded by paramedics. My wife told me Danielle had a seizure and stopped breathing.
That was my first encounter with epilepsy. Flash forward five months, dozens of seizures later, numerous hospital visits around the Northwest and Danielle was heading back to school.
Little did we know that Danielle’s seizures had less of an impact on her then how her classmates treated her after her first seizure in the classroom.
Feared, isolated, ignored and talked about was more traumatizing to Danielle then 3 minutes of unconsciousness.
At that point, I knew what needed to be done. Danielle’s classmates needed to be educated about epilepsy. By that time I was in contact with the Idaho Epilepsy Association. I reached out to the director and the Principal to set up some short talks along with distributing some literature to the kids in Danielle’s class. After a few short lessons explaining epilepsy, some students were more welcoming and less afraid of Danielle’s condition. Some of the kids even took it upon themselves to watch over her, and notify a grownup when Danielle was having a seizure.
After that experience, I decided to make my Partners Project a mission to make educating kids at Adams Elementary School about various disabilities a standard procedure. I believe it would benefit student and teacher alike and lead to a more inclusive school environment. This early education on disabilities could translate into a better understanding and informed adult population in the future.
What Partners Did For Me:
I never had much knowledge or interaction with the world of disabilities. Like I mentioned above, my daughter was nine before I got my first glimpse. Participating in Partners was very eye opening. I met self-advocates, advocates and others that are such amazing people in their kindness and motivation to make the world more inclusive. I learned that I have something to give, and I was shown how each of us can start making a difference. The experience also made me understand that we all have challenges /disabilities and we all have gifts/abilities. People just need an opportunity and sometimes some assistance to find that gift.
Dan Salmi, 2016 Graduate, Idaho Partners in Policymaking
After 26 years of post -traumatic brain injury living, I thought I had learned a lot about advocating for persons with disabilities.
Then I became a participant in the Partners In Policymaking session of 2015-2016 and my heart and eyes were opened much wider.
Along with my own experiences and learning 1)more about the history of treatment of persons with disabilities; and 2)what current resources
Are out there, I have become more involved in the interaction of agencies in my area to better advocate for me, my wife and others with disabilities.
I am so thankful for the existence of the ICDD and those involved in advocacy.
2016 Graduate Idaho Partners in Policymaking