|Rebecca Bax, IDDC executive director|
The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council is pleased to welcome Rebecca Lynn Bax as executive director. Rebecca started her time at the DD Council this summer, following the retirement of Becky Harker after 20 years with the Council.
Before starting with the DD Council, Rebecca worked as a program coordinator with the Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council. She provided technical assistance to the Education Committee and the Support Families Committee, directed major grants for statewide projects and held leadership roles on statewide boards and task forces to influence systems change.
As a parent of a child with special healthcare needs and learning disabilities, Bax knows how important the DD Council’s mission is. She said, “I saw how easily low expectations became the norm for my daughter. The Council has the unique opportunity to create change and empower all people to live the life they desire.”
Bax’s immediate goals are to gain a working knowledge of the Iowa system and support for individuals with disabilities. She also has a passion for advocacy work. Bax said, “Advocacy is in the fiber of my being. I am always seeking to improve an idea, concept or project.”
When Amanda Devereaux and her husband found out their second child was going to be born with a preventable disability, they started advocating for educational legislation before she was even born. Pippa, now two years old, was diagnosed with congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) in utero. Her parents introduced legislation with their state senator to help other families prevent CMV from affecting their children.
After failing to pass their legislation in the 2015-2016 legislative session, Amanda and her husband got more families and legislators involved in the advocacy process. After another session of meeting with legislators and raising awareness, their legislation passed.
Amanda’s experience offers a learning opportunity for other people interested in advocacy. She advises others who want to talk with their legislators to have a clear concept of what they want to discuss before they meet in order to make the most of the meeting. Amanda also emphasizes the importance of using connections and reaching out for help. She and her husband reached out to many people and asked them to contact their legislators about CMV prevention. All of their contributions helped pass the legislation.
Most importantly, she stresses the importance of perseverance. “You can’t stop; even when you think you miss your chance like I thought we had, we still made it,” she said.
On January 8, a new legislative session starts in Iowa. ID Action wants to make sure you’re prepared. We’re kicking off the legislative session with a campaign to highlight information to help you be the best advocate you can be. We’ll be posting information on our website and social media about contacting your legislators, important legislation, how to navigate the Capitol and Iowa Legislature website and how to advocate in your city.
If you would like to meet with your legislators in Des Moines during the upcoming legislative session, consider applying for ID Action’s Capitol Day Grants. ID Action will provide eight (8) grants up to $500 each for advocacy training and support to local advocacy groups who are interested in meeting with their legislators at the Iowa State Capitol and advocating on behalf of disability-related issues.
If your group is selected, you will attend an advocacy training and meet with your legislators. You may also watch a floor debate if time allows, attend a committee meeting, meet with other state agencies and meet with ID Action or Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council staff.
In order to apply, your group must include 10 to 20 people with a disability and be advocating for disability-related issues. To apply, visit http://www.idaction.org/get-involved/capitol-days/.
Your experiences are valuable. ID Action regularly shares the stories of Iowans with disabilities with our newsletter subscribers, social media followers and members to show the positive impact people with disabilities have on their communities. Sharing your story could inspire others to get involved in their communities!
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If you would like to be featured, send us your story through email at email@example.com or by mail to P.O. Box 737, Des Moines, IA 50303. You can also call us at 866-432-2846. Help us educate, encourage and inspire others!
If you want to get involved in your community, volunteering offers endless opportunities. Get started by finding a cause or organization that matters to you. You want to be passionate about the work you’re going to do. Find out what opportunities the organizations have and pick one you’ll like doing.
Volunteering is a great way to build your skills and confidence, meet new people and help your community. If you have questions about volunteering, call us at 866-432-2846. We’d be happy to help!