“Nothing About Us Without Us”

(Ask US what we want!)

I heard this chant during my city’s Disability Pride Parade and it has been a mantra that has resonated in my ears.  How often do we involve those we influence in life-changing decisions?  I think about this often in the context of my current work.  In fact, I see that this tends to happen quite frequently when the stakeholders are what we would typically associate with disenfranchised groups.

In my current work, I see that the initiative that was put forth by parents in the district was completely diluted and its urgency was minimized by high ranking members of the department that was entrusted with carrying it out.  Likewise, I see that many decisions are made for families, children, adults with disabilities that do not involve those who would be most acutely affected by it.  This has been proven to me, time and time again, by people in decision-making positions, and by special needs families.

What can we do to change this?  This is a huge proposition, no doubt.  However, I always believe that there is strength in numbers.  For starters, it would be a great idea to get involved, participate.  It is easier said than done, I know, especially when many of us hold more than one job to make ends meet.  Find any way to participate possible:  Twitter, email, evening meetings, or any type of social media group that would help you gain perspective.  Second, you can organize, and by this, I mean get together, and reach out to those who need to hear you.  Finally, in the way that it is possible, go out and vote.  Choose candidates that are more likely to hear your concerns.  Remember that your local candidates are the ones who are most likely to influence your local decisions.  Don’t be afraid to ask.

Keep in mind that change takes time, but also remember that we must continue to be heard if we want the powers-that-be to understand how important it is for us to be included in decisions that will ultimately be life-changing for us.  Participation, to the best of our ability, is key.

If you need guidance navigating the turbulent waters of participation, drop me a note.

More to come on this subject.  Stay tuned!

Ask Me First!

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