"Partners brings us together; instills self confidence to become active participants in advocating for our rights."
"Partners opened a lot of doors for our son's future and showed us he can live a full life given the chance."
"I have learned to speak out for people who are disabled and to stand up for our rights."
"Partners was a very good experience, I learned a lot, had fun, got to know other people from around the state."
Shirley Klein, a computer specialist, recently traveled to England and had this to say:
My trip has made me realize that we must not only work to preserve and implement the ADA in this country, but we must also strive to ensure these hard won rights are realized by people with disabilities throughout the world.
Deborah Davis is a 2012 West Virginia Partners in Policymaking graduate. Her testimonial not only captures the many benefits she received from her Partners learning experience but sets out a Plan of Action that conveys both challenges and an inspirational message.
I came to Partners in Policymaking backwards. Because of the incredible community support and encouragement our daughter Rylee has encountered, as parents we immediately felt a deep heart-felt desire to serve others in a similar manner.
With three other mothers I began a state-wide resource fair focusing on services, programs, and activities for children with disabilities and their families. In March 2012 we celebrated our fifth year running One4All-and I'm pleased to say that because of our community's continued interest we are now growing to encompass information for all individuals with disabilities-regardless of age, diagnosis, or prognosis.
Together with friends of our family we've also begun a faith based support group. The CIA Project focuses on supporting families who care for children with more comprehensive medical needs. Anonymous donors assist us as we assemble care packages for extended hospital stay admissions, deliver home cooked meals to bedsides, and offer parents/caregivers a night away once their child is home and stable-all with no strings attached.
Over the past year I've also had the opportunity to make two trips to Jamaica-delivering mobility products and education to families like our own.
I was already busy-listening, serving, and caring about others...but I also knew I had much more potential.
Partners in Policymaking has given me the additional knowledge and frame work that I was missing to speak with authority. After completing this intensive nine month course, each of us now has the ability to speak articulately. Even more important-we now know who to contact, who to turn to for greater education and inspiration. Partners in Policymaking gives us a family of professionals who support us wholeheartedly and unabashedly...cheering us on to greater action.
To our WV Developmental Disability Council-thank you for your constant commitment to caring. Thank you for empowering us, for investing in us. I promise to use your trust in me effectively and wisely.
To each of our guest speakers, thank you for taking time to educate us with patience and good humor, and for sharing your passions in life with such enthusiasm.
To each person who has gone before us-each individual with a disability and their family-who has boldly paved the way, in some cases literally breaking down barriers...and curbsides...thank you. I hope that each of us remembers the privilege it has been to hear about, read about, even meet these extraordinary trailblazers...but I also hope each of us remembers it is now our duty and privilege to help those who come after us.
Now, as we complete this course-we've been asked to address in five short minutes our own personal 'Plan of Action'...so get ready, here's mine.
I plan to fail and make mistakes. But I also plan to pick myself up, shake myself off, and continue to try again-and learn from each mistake made.
I plan to continue to be thankful for the services and resources we have here in West Virginia. But I also plan to ensure gratitude does not lull me into a false sense of security or complacency. We must always evolve and adapt to meet the needs of each person in an individualized, person-centered manner.
I plan to make waves.
I plan not to be heard...but rather to be listened to. I plan to continue to conduct myself in way that is true to who I know I am – capitalizing on my strengths in personality by not compromising on my integrity.
I plan to remember that how I conduct myself affects each person who advocates after me.
I plan to rebel against stereotype.
I plan to conquer my fear of public speaking...by finding more opportunities to speak.
I plan for my daughter, Rylee to be in a Partners in Policymaking slideshow.
I plan to be part of the solution.
I want to see WV DHHR form a single point of entry for all individuals with disabilities. If a person is not eligible for one program, they should immediately be directed to the correct program or service. Each person should be given every tool and assistance necessary to be successful. There are already many state employees with the knowledge and skill set to make this possible. We know firsthand what can happen when people communicate with each other, remembering that while we may have different positions...our principle is the same.
Our issue was solved over time, during our PIP training...but our resolution and how we were treated shouldn't be the exception to the rule...it must be the 'norm.'
I will get WV H.B. 4651 passed-a bill requiring Medicaid have public notice and comment period and that
Medicaid plan amendments must first be agreed upon and approved by LOCHHRA/H&HR Committee before any implementation.
To my fellow graduates this year-I've enjoyed getting to know each of you better and I look forward to hearing how you are impacting your community.
But since I've challenged everyone all session...I leave each of you with two words to graduate with…"Bring It." Thank you.
Deborah Davis, Cabell County, West Virginia
2011-2012 Graduate of Partners in Policymaking