November 15, 2016 | Alecia Talbott
Disability Day on the Hill, which will be Feb. 8, 2017, is an important day for families to share their personal stories with state representatives and senators to help them understand how the decisions they make on legislative issues affect individuals with Down syndrome and their families. The Down Syndrome Association of Middle TN (DSAMT) strongly encourages all our families to attend each year. Our presence at this event will demonstrate to our legislators that individuals with Down syndrome are a vibrant, important part of our community and must be supported on a government level – and the more who attend, the stronger our voice.
We know that for some the idea of meeting with lawmakers can seem overwhelming, and DSAMT educates and supports them, so that they are more comfortable with the process. Prior to the event, we provide families and self-advocates with template letters and samples of how to talk to their representatives. We also talk with families 1:1 to help them learn to tell their stories. We create leave-behind letters addressing important legislative issues that families can share, and DSAMT hosts an information table at the event for last-minute questions and support. Families and self-advocates can also request a DSAMT representative attend with them. This year, our families will meet and ride together on a private bus, so they don’t even have to worry about parking.
Specifically for our self-advocates, DSAMT will host a training session on how to meet with legislators in January 2017 in order to prepare for DDH. Our experienced self-advocates will share their stories and help others to write theirs.
As parents, we learn quickly that we need to be strong advocates for AND WITH our children throughout their lives, and legislative advocacy is so important. DSAMT is here to help.
Also, TennesseeWorks will be hosting a registration site for Disability Day on the Hill, which should be ready in early December. More news on that soon!