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Real Strength; Real Courage

Positively Speaking

“The King County Board for Developmental Disabilities would like to invite you to its 26th annual community forum to present its 2016 Legislative Agenda. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 23, 2015, at the DoubleTree Guest Suites located at 16500 Southcenter Parkway in Tukwila. Registration, pictures, and socializing begin at 6:30 p.m. and the program will begin promptly at 7 p.m. For more information please see the enclosed flyer.
All Legislators from King County and our Congressional delegation have been invited to attend. A large audience gives an important message to our Legislators.

Families, individuals with developmental disabilities, and providers should attend this meeting because:
•you will hear issues concerning developmental disabilities and people sharing their stories;
•you will meet your Legislators and they will meet their constituents; and
•you will meet other individuals with developmental disabilities and families.”

The above words are taken from this year’s flyer announcing, what has come to be, the highlight of the year for advocates of people with Developmental Disabilities.

Each year, the key issues the Board and advocates wishes the legislature to address are chosen and families touched by those concerns give their testimony in front of a full bank of representatives, senators and council people as well as an audience filled with 750 people mostly comprised of similar families, and caregivers and agency advocates.

It is a powerful night of vision and activism at it’s best.  It is also the night we all celebrate real strength and real courage.

Families with children and members who are DD do not have the luxury of playing pretend or giving into weakness and whining. Everyday requires being centered in the truth of the world of differently abled. Whether interactions with the medical world, social services, the academic world, or neighborhoods of ‘typicals’, each word spoken, each action taken, each moment of the day is about consciously attending to the needs and necessities of whatever the mind or body does in a non typical way.

Last year, the most poignant moment of the gathering came midway through the evening. To everyone’s delight, illustrative of the on going needs and work, an entire row of a dozen or more parents holding newly born babies with Down’s syndrome, under a year, stood up.  

I hope some of you can attend.

Next March 2016 we will have our own gathering here on Vashon. Our little Island is as wonderful a place to raise the differently abled as typicals rave about.  Professionals, parents, self advocates, and agency personnel will gather to talk about the hopes and dreams of building a thoroughly supportive environment for those with Developmental Disabilities and their families.

Recently I was invited to attend a leadership conference that gathered 125 agency workers, self advocates, parents and community activists from all over Washington state to spend three days learning about and envisioning wonderful new changes in integration and inclusion for the DD culture. Sheltered workshops and institutional residences are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.  Young people with Developmental Disabilities are being employed more regularly in full time work where they earn at least minimum wage instead of the old system of part time work where they earn less than typicals. Today, people with DD marry, have children, and participate in fully integrated and inclusive lives in their neighborhoods and communities.  They vote, do volunteer work, and participate recreationally.

Make an effort to take the trek to Southcenter and see this wondrous event. Then mark 13 March 2016 from 1:30- 6 on your calendars and join in the effort to attract and serve more families with kids with Developmental Disabilities.  They are people with real inner strength and real courage.