Iowans with Disabilities in Action

Iowa Advocacy Connection - 2015 Issue 1

Issue 7, February 25, 2015

Articles in This Issue:


Advocating for Change Day - Join us and learn how you can make a difference!

Advocating for Change Day

Join us for the 2015 Advocating for Change Day on April 22, 2015. At a special training session you can learn how to effectively develop and deliver your message to legislators and elected officials. You will also learn more about the legislative process and the best ways to contact your legislators while you are at the Capitol and after you head back home.

Once the training session has finished, you will head over to the Capitol to meet with your legislators and other elected officials and attend an afternoon rally. Throughout the day you will see the legislative process in action by attending committee meetings or watching a debate from the galleries (when the Senate and/or House are in session). If you are planning to attend Advocating for Change Day, we encourage you to let your legislators know and set a specific time to meet them after your training session is complete.

If you need to look up your legislators, visit the infoNET website and click on “Take Action.” You will be taken to the Grassroots Action Center where you can look up who your legislators are. You can even email them directly from this page.

Register for Advocating for Change Day by going to the ID Action website, call us at 866-432-2846 or email us at contactus@idaction.org. Please register by April 6 to guarantee your free lunch. Advocating for Change Day is free to attend. This is your opportunity to talk with your legislators about issues important to you!

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Personal Story - Brandon Arkland

Brandon ArklandBrandon Arkland won’t let his Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis be a barrier to accomplishing his goals. Instead, he embraces it and turns what others often view as a negative impact of Autism into a powerful tool that helps him as a college student and as an advocate. As a student at Iowa Central Community College studying elementary education and special education, Brandon uses his ability to stay focused to his advantage and quickly get his homework assignments and projects completed. 

While things haven’t always been easy for Brandon he has worked hard with the support of his family and friends to get where he is today. He now wants to help others who have faced similar struggles to understand the opportunities that an Autism diagnosis provides. “I want to see a world where people embrace Autism,” says Brandon, and he has a big plan to help this happen. This fall he will head to Iowa State University to complete his degree, and then he hopes to work with people who have faced similar challenges. Brandon explains, “I realize how hard it can be socially, how hard it can be academically. I want to construct new ways to learn.” While Brandon has his eyes on the future, right now he is focused on making an impact at Iowa Central. He was recently elected as the Vice President of the Political Action and Diversity Committee for the Student Body Government.

Brandon says he is motivated to be an advocate because, “The Autism spectrum is very big and diverse. There’s the high end and the low end.  On the high end, you have people like me who are pretty good functioning. But on the low end there are people who can’t even talk, they can’t even say what they want to say. I want to be their voice. I want to say the things they can’t say.”

Brandon recently met with his state legislators at the Capitol to talk about a project that he is working on to increase awareness during Autism Awareness Month in April. Brandon built up his confidence to become an advocate by stepping out of his comfort zone. His advice to anyone who wants to become an advocate: “Be involved. Get out of your comfort zone. Do things you’re not comfortable with. Join a sports team, or join your local student government. Or just get a job and meet people. Once you do that, you’ll gain the confidence you need to do other things.” This is exactly what Brandon has done!

To hear more from Brandon and watch him take a selfie with Governor Branstad, please visit the ID Action website.

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Advocate of the Year Award Notice

Angie Ploger, 2013 Recipient2014 ID Action ‘Advocate of the Year’ Nominations Needed

Each year, ID Action recognizes one outstanding ID Action registrant who advocates to improve the lives of Iowans with disabilities. ID Action is now accepting nominations for the 2014 Advocate of the Year award. To nominate a deserving individual, please send us a letter that includes the nominee’s name, address, phone number and how they are making a difference in their community or at the state or federal levels. Please include your name and contact information for any follow-up questions.

You can e-mail nominations to contactus@idaction.org or mail them to ID Action, P.O. Box 737, Des Moines, IA 50303.

The deadline for nominations is March 12, 2015, and the winner will be announced at the 2015 Advocating for Change Day rally on April 22, 2015.

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Capitol Day Grants

ID Action will provide eight (8) Capitol Day grants up to $500 each for advocacy training and support to local advocacy groups interested in meeting with their legislators at the Iowa State Capitol and advocating on behalf of disability related issues.

Grant Recipient Requirements

As an ID Action Capitol Day grant recipient, your group must:

  • Schedule a Capitol Day on either Tuesday or Wednesday in the months of February through April
  • Participate in an advocacy training at the beginning of the Capitol Day  
  • Set appointments with your legislators (ID Action can assist)  
  • Provide a written recap of your Capitol Day within two weeks of your visit including any follow-up communication with legislators  

Optional Activities

While at the capitol you may also want to participate in the following:

  • Watch a floor debate  
  • Attend a committee meeting  
  • Meet with other state agencies  
  • Meet with ID Action or Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council staff  

Applying for ID Action Capitol Day Grants

The following are the requirements for your group to be eligible to apply for an ID Action Capitol Day Grant:

  • Your group must consist of at least 10 people with a disability (no more than 30)  
  • Your group must be advocating for disability related issues  

To apply for an ID Action Capitol Day Grant, please fill out the grant application that can be found on the ID Action website.  Please call 866-432-2846 or email us at contactus@idaction.org with any questions. Grants are available on a first come, first served basis for eligible groups. ID Action Capitol Day Grants cannot be used to attend Advocating for Change Day or to support organizations’ lobby days.

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March Awareness Month

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and ID Action needs your voice to help us raise awareness. You have an opportunity to make an impact in your community and state. March is the perfect time to get involved, take action and become a self-advocate. Here are a few things you can do:

Join the Campaign: During the month of March we will be sending out one email a week that will highlight an area of community involvement, such as, employment, volunteerism, school, recreation etc. The emails will include statistics, quotes and facts related to developmental disabilities and provide resources to share. You can forward these emails to your network and post on your social media channels to encourage participation. You can also to use Facebook and Twitter to post a photo, video or story that shows how people with and without developmental disabilities are impacting communities around the nation.

Communicate – Sending an email, calling your legislator or elected official or writing to the editor of your newspaper can have a huge impact. The only way to increase awareness in your community or with your elected officials is by letting your voice be heard! 

Share your story – Your story is a powerful tool! When you share your story you have the opportunity to make an impact on others. Visit the ID Action website to hear the stories of Iowans throughout the state and how they are impacting their communities. If you want to share your story with us, please contact us at contactus@idaction.org.

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