Following last week’s amazing Legislative Forum, our team at The Arc of King County is fired up and ready for what we anticipate will be a tough legislative session in 2015. How could we not be excited to get started after hearing the stories that so many families and self-advocates shared with our local legislators on that cold, rainy Monday night before Thanksgiving. As I listened to their comments, I smiled knowing so many people were there to thank legislators for the actions they took previously to make lives better for people with I/DD in our state.
Every year, we expect a packed house of individuals with I/DD and their families because so many of our legislators attend the Forum to find out what is important to our community. Individuals share their personal stories of struggle, and they celebrate the benefits of legislation that has been passed thanks to the efforts of previous advocacy. A major component of our grassroots effort is seeing how self-advocates come together with families and professionals in the I/DD field to improve conditions for themselves, and to make life better for all of us.
In the last 30 years, I have learned that advocacy works. Every person who uses their voice to tell their unique story helps to increase awareness for everyone who hasn’t spoken yet. Our movement has been strengthened by countless advocates over the years. For that we are grateful. But we need YOUR voice, too. Share your story with your local representative. I promise that the first phone call might be intimidating, but we elected them to represent all of us. Therefore, they need to hear from all of us!
As 2014 comes to close, and you begin reflecting on what you want to happen in 2015, make a resolution to get active as an advocate. Our community needs you.