Disability Rights Blog
Aug 27

Partners in Policymaking Application Deadline Draws Near

There are three types of people: People who make things happen; People who watch things happen; and People who wonder what happened! Wouldn’t you like to be one of those people who make things happen? YOU CAN BE! You can learn how to make things happen through Partners in Policymaking.

If you are an adult with a disability or parent or family member of an individual with a disability, you are encouraged to submit an application for one of 15 spots for Year Twenty-Nine of South Dakota Partners in Policymaking. The innovative leadership program analyzes disability issues and builds skills that consumers, parents, and guardians need to have in order influence legislation effectively and obtain the most state-of-the-art services for themselves and others.

Sponsored by grants from the SD Planning on Developmental Disabilities; USD Center for Disabilities and SD Parent Connection, the training includes current issues affecting people with disabilities, best practices, and the policymaking and legislative processes at the local, state and federal levels. The overall goal of the training is to achieve a productive partnership between people needing and using services and those in a position to make policy and law.

Disability Rights of South Dakota serves as the administrating agency for the training program. Program Coordinator, Sandy Stocklin, notes “It is so exciting to see the change in people from the first session to the last.  The enthusiasm and commitment by each participant is amazing. THIS TRAINING CHANGES LIVES!”

Parents in the program learn from the vast experience of the adults with disabilities and receive these benefits:  

  1. A broader perspective regarding their child’s future, looking at the long-term, the big picture;
  2. The recognition of how their child’s earliest experiences in school, community and friendships-both positive (inclusion) and negative (segregation)-will affect the adult years;
  3. The realization that they (parents) must change before they can expect others to change; they must begin to have high expectations for their children;
  4. An understanding of the concept of “emancipation” so that parents can encourage self-advocacy in their children as early as possible, allowing parents to have the courage to “let go” and allow children the dignity of risk.

Self-advocates learn from the parents’ personal perspectives and life experiences and receive these benefits: 

  1. Knowledge and understanding of what their own parents felt and experienced;
  2. Support and encouragement as they work through the emotions and activities inherent to their own emancipation process;
  3. The recognition (often for the very first time) of the value of their own life experiences to be a teacher to others;
  4. The opportunity to educate parents about what it feels like to live with a disability, what is really important and what isn’t, and how to help their children be as independent as possible as early as possible.

To receive an application, contact Sandy Hook, Disability Rights South Dakota, 2520 E. Franklin St., Ste. 2; Pierre, SD  57501 or call 1-800-658-4782. Email sandy.hook@drsdlaw.org All applications must be postmarked on or before October 4, 2020. Training classes are held one weekend per month, November through April and expenses are covered. Due to COVID there will be a combination of virtual and in-person sessions.