More than 100 attendees, exhibitors and volunteers from all over Iowa participated in the inaugural ID Action Self-Advocacy Conference in Coralville, Iowa. The advocacy conference provided an opportunity for Iowans with disabilities to learn and grow as advocates and agents for change.
National and local presenters inspired attendees with a range of topics that included Leadership Development, Citizen Advocacy, Political Participation, Community Life and Voting. With humorous songs, Peter Leidy delivered the keynote titled, Whose Life Is It, Anyway?
Attendees had many positive thoughts to share about the conference including the following:
Visit www.idaction.org and catch a glimpse of the conference. Mark your calendar for the next ID Action Self-Advocacy Conference—October 7-9, 2015, in Coralville, IA.
The theme of the 2014 ID Action Self-Advocacy Conference was “Make Your Mark” and that is just what we hope attendees will do with the information they learned. Instead of sharing just one story with you in this issue, we want to share with you a collection of short interviews from multiple conference attendees. Find out what attendees learned and how they hope to use the information in their own communities.
One of the advantages of attending a conference is the chance to meet new people, learn from each other and discuss issues that are important to you. Mike Hoenig of Davenport used the self-advocacy conference as an opportunity to build his network and reconnect with old friends. Building your network and developing relationships with members of your community are important parts of anyone’s life. In a session called Making Connections: Building Bridges to Community Life, Peter Leidy held a discussion with Lydia Dawley about her involvement in the community and the impact being an active community member has had in her life. You can hear Lydia’s story on the ID Action website (www.idaction.org).
Jacque Dawley, Lydia’s mom, hopes to use the information that she learned at the conference to help inspire other parents to get their children with disabilities involved in their community and advocacy at a young age because she believes that it is critical to their development.
Cynthia Qloud from Des Moines attended Alan Feirer’s two leadership sessions. These sessions were a great reminder that when you are in a leadership position it is important to remember who you are serving and what their needs are. Alan’s sessions, Leadership 1 and Leadership 2, discussed the idea that leaders should approach their leadership role in the spirit of service and focus on meeting the needs of others. Cynthia said, “It was nice to be able to talk to people who could give us different ideas as how to approach legislation or being a self-advocate in a different way.” She also attended the storytelling session, presented by Maureen Korte, which focused on crafting your personal story and delivering it in an effective way that will make people want to listen. Cynthia said this session helped her to improve her storytelling skills so that the story relates to the need of the person.
To hear more from attendees, visit the ID Action website at www.idaction.org.
Click the picture below to watch the 2014 ID Action Self-Advocacy Conference video.
The 2015 legislative session is scheduled to begin on January 12, 2015. Here are a few ways that you can get ready and be prepared to advocate on issues important to you.
Contact Your Legislators—Legislators are in their home districts until they head to Des Moines when session begins. Now is your opportunity to meet with them and talk about issues that are important to you. Find out your legislators’ contact information at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find. Call or email your legislators to schedule a time before session starts.
Local Capitol Days—Schedule a day for your group to visit the Capitol. ID Action offers grants for groups that want to visit the Capitol and meet with their legislators. Call us at 866-432-2846 and we will work with you to schedule your visit. You can find out more information about Local Capitol Day grants at www.idaction.org. Local Capitol Day grants cannot be used to attend Advocating for Change Day.
Advocacy Tool Kit—Build your tool kit and be prepared. Write the personal story you want to share, talk with family and friends about issues, and visit the infoNET website (www.infoNETiowa.org) to learn more about what to expect during the next session.
Advocating for Change Day will be held on April 22, 2014. Save the date so you can participate in a day specifically intended for Iowans affected by disability. You will have the opportunity to attend a training to become skilled at communicating with your legislators and elected officials by learning how to develop and deliver your message effectively. You will then head over to the Capitol to meet with your legislators and other elected officials and attend an afternoon rally. Registration materials will be mailed or emailed to you in January.
ID Action has been sharing the personal stories of Iowans with disabilities with you for the last two years. From stories about community involvement and volunteering to working and living independently, these Iowans have shown the impact of being an active and engaged member of your community. At the ID Action Self-Advocacy conference in October, we showed a video that highlights all of the stories we’ve collected over the years. Check it out at www.idaction.org. We plan to continue this project in 2015. If you would like to share your story with us, please call us at 866-432-2846 or email us at email@example.com.
ID Action’s public policy publication, infoNET, has added a new tool to your advocacy toolbox—the Grassroots Advocacy Center. You do not need to know the names of your legislators, the governor or the people that represent you in the U.S. Congress. If you know your address, our Grassroots Advocacy Center will match you to your elected officials and automatically find their emails for you. All you need to do is write your message and hit "send." It's just that easy. So try it out this year—click here to get started.
If you need more help in crafting your message, make sure you check out the infoNET (www.infonetiowa.org) and Advocacy University (www.advocacyuniversity.org) websites for more information You will find lots of useful information and videos other advocates have made to help you get started. A video demonstration of the Grassroots Advocacy Center will be available on the infoNET website soon.