This month, we want to highlight a staff person who is doing great work as a change agent in his community. You probably have already met him – Eric Matthes, the coordinator of the Community Change Champions at The Arc of King County. He is a longtime activist advocate who is heavily involved in legislative advocacy. He is also an adult with Down syndrome.
In the last legislative session, HB 2403 was a bill relating to Down syndrome resources of interest for many advocacy groups. Eric, along with many activist advocates, parents and professionals, spoke to their legislators to emphasize the importance of this bill. Eric testified at a hearing regarding this bill, by sharing his personal story of being born with Down syndrome and the lack of information and support the medical professionals provided to his parents. The result of the advocacy and education was HB 2403 was signed into state law. Now medical professionals are to provide up-to-date, evidence-based, written information about Down syndrome regarding support services, hotlines, Down syndrome organizations, and support groups to expectant parents receiving a positive prenatal diagnosis and parents who have a child with Down syndrome in culturally and linguistically appropriate form. To learn more about HB 2403 go to, http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2015-16/Pdf/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/2403.PL.pdf
This is an example of what local activist advocates can do in our state. Eric’s program supports and educates people with disabilities to become strong activist advocates for themselves and the community. Recently the name of the program was updated to Community Change Champions, reflecting the real change that happens when these activist advocates get involved. Along with this name change came the development of the mission, vision and values of Community Change Champions.
Mission – We promote the civil rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by empowering activist advocates with leadership and advocacy skills to ensure full inclusion and community involvement throughout their lifetime.
Vision – We envision a society in which people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are not only respected but engaged as equal citizens who make valuable contributions within their community and have the tools and opportunities to make personal and civic decisions to ensure the civil rights of all people.
- Don’t work on us; work with us
- Nothing about us without us
- Equity for all
- Label jars not people
- Together we make a difference
Community Change Champions connects people with disabilities to advocacy groups in Washington state, empowers people to become strong leaders and activist advocates, and educates King County Legislators about important disability related topics and current legislation that are top priorities to people with disabilities and advocacy groups to create a more inclusive community with community based supports.
If you or someone you know wants to get connected to legislative advocacy contact Eric Matthes to learn more about the opportunities in King County.