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"I am very humbled and proud to be part of this great program. Partners has totally changed the way I think, act and speak about people and their disabilities. I vow to continue this knowledge through advocating what I have learned at Partners. I find myself looking for ways I can help or educate."

"Besides the gift of knowledge, I also gained 24 very special friends that I truly have the highest respect and love for."

"We, as parents, must be diligent in keeping history from repeating itself. We must continue to push forward at every opportunity to remove many of the barriers that continue to prevent people with disabilities from having the same rights and opportunities as people without disabilities."

"I learned how special education teachers and regular education teachers need to work collaboratively in order to make inclusion work. Inclusion is not sticking a child with a disability in the regular classroom without supports and expecting him/her to learn exactly what the other children are learning."

"I now have the knowledge to be more successful when dealing with those who oppose my views. I know that the word NO is by no means the last word and should be considered a challenge."

"I've grown in so many ways. I've gained backbone, a real sense of knowing."

"The supported employment session gave me a lot to think about as my daughter grows up and wants to enter into the job market. The thing I learned was that it is not too early to start thinking about what skills she will need, what supports are required and to find out what she would like to do."

"This information and knowledge that I have received will empower me to continue to fight for what is right and just. Partners has taught me that I have to be active in my community."

"Partners has made me more aware of issues at all levels (national, state and local) that can impact the life of my daughter and all people with disabilities."

"Most importantly Partners has taught me that I have the power to advocate for my daughter, but that I must choose my battles to achieve maximum benefit."

"Being told Partners will change my life blew me away. How can getting together once a month change my life? Boy, was I SO WRONG!"

"One thing that has really changed in me is my self-confidence. I now know that what I have to say is important and does matter. I alone CAN make a difference."

"I learned that going to city council meetings; county and school board meetings can be a good place to get things done. I also got to meet our Mayor and see that he is not such a bad guy. He is a human just like the rest of us!"

"I learned that everybody, no matter what color, what the disabilities or what nationality they are, they deserve a chance to learn and to live a full, productive life."

"Having had the privilege to be a part of the Partners in Policymaking, I am happy to say that Partners in Policymaking is second to none in the struggle for the rights of developmentally disabled people."

"It's helped to open up new avenues to things I never even dreamed of."

"Forgiveness: Before Partners I had a huge "chip" on my shoulders with my special education director."

"I discovered while at Partners INCLUSION is a huge factor and a major importance in classrooms as well as in the general community."

"The most important issues covered for me was to use and understand and be able to implement the policies and procedures of the legalities of each law."

"Having the knowledge of how they work and the use of supports can put me in a very assertive and powerful position."

"I learned how to behave better; about getting a job in the community; learned I'm in control of my own meeting. And now I'm registered to vote!"

"I was doing piecework at a sheltered workshop. I decided to go back to school to become a secretary. The difference was self-esteem. Partners saved my life. I used to be on psychotropic medication. I started asking questions, decided to say no and took control of my life."

"Partners gave me the information and encouragement I needed to achieve and do all the things I am doing today. Without their encouragement I probably would not be the Mayor of the city of Elk Point."

"Partners creates self-confidence."

"Partners has allowed me to speak up and helped my self esteem. It allowed new people in my life."

"It makes you feel better about yourself when you complete the program. It helped me to communicate with my family more."

"Partners changed my life. I used to be the mother from hell—ready for battling with whoever to ensure my daughter received the supports she needed. Partners showed me how to be effective to create a win-win situation. It gave me the confidence I needed to show others the importance and impact of directing your own services."

"I believe I am where I am today (where I dreamed I'd never be) because of the marketing skills I gained from Partners."

"I knew I had abilities, Partners brought them out to the forefront."

"My experience with Partners is probably the best education I ever received and no one will be able to take that from me."

"The speakers really changed my life. They really made me think about my life in so many different ways."

"The knowledge and fellowship that my husband and I gained from our Partners training simply cannot be outdone."

"Partners helped me to realize that there is a wonderful community that we belong to – fellow Partners who also are using their knowledge to make the world better for all of us."

"Partners taught me how important it is for legislators to hear our needs and what we say can make a difference on how they vote."

"Partners woke up something inside of me. I realized in order to become a successful advocate for my child with a disability, I had to learn to advocate for myself and find the confidence to do that."

"The most influential thing I learned from Partners is that the term developmental disability is not just another updated name for mental retardation. Having learned the definition of developmental disability, I became aware of the fact that many, many individuals with disabilities fit into that definition."

"I have a learning disability and did not like it at first. I really hated my disability. Partners in Policymaking is helping me to speak out for myself and have confidence in myself. I never had confidence before. I had a good teacher in this class. This spring I learned to do the Jingle Dress dance. Before my class I would not have had the courage to try. Now I can say ‘look how far I have come.’ Partners in Policymaking and People First are helping me to speak out and tell other people what I would like to do."

"Partners in Policymaking was a great experience for me. It has given me confidence to go into meetings with the school personnel and doctors and not be intimated by them. The may have degrees that I don’t but I have lived with my daughter."

"I have learned through Partners that if I don’t demand the best for my child the school isn’t just going to provide the best like the law would have them do."

"I have come to find out that I don’t have to change my child but get others to change their attitudes. Now when we go places I don’t get uptight when her behavior isn’t what others would expect of another child her age."

"I have been writing letters to our Washington delegation about IDEA and the reauthorization, prescription drug assistance and other issues related to persons with disabilities. I wouldn’t be doing these things without the skills I gained through Partners."

"Partners has changed the way I look at life and the challenges around me. I have come to realize that since the day my daughter was born, whenever I looked at her all I could see was her diagnosis of Down Syndrome. Since starting Partners, I can honestly say that I have changed my outlook and can now see my daughter for who she is and not the disability. I now realize that she is a fun-loving, happy girl with boundless energy and strong will to accomplish anything."

"Partners is the most effective way I know to help people help themselves, no matter who you are, what type of disability a person and/or loved one has. It is intense, immediate, and precise. It is a cost-effective way to deal with many problems and it teaches people how to become persuasive in policymaking. I used the information I received repeatedly and even lent them to friends."

"Partners offered me education, insight, friendship, and a network of people who are dedicated to helping any person with a developmental disability."

"The Partner Program and the annual continuing education training is the best thing that could have ever happened to me, my child, and my reservation."

"In addition to the personal benefits reaped, I’ve had the fortune of positively affecting a change to where parents of a child with disabilities is resting more comfortably with the educational possibilities for their child. The toolkit provided by Partners has been invaluable! Thank you!"

"I have found a job. Become more responsible to my life in becoming more independent. Made more choices on personal enhancement plan."

"I met people and received valued insight and information."

"Partners has helped both my son and myself tremendously, in achieving quality services as well as being productive and proactive, rather than reactive and stressed out over lack of communication. Partners is a wonderful program and every chance I get I ask if anyone has heard of Partners and then describe the knowledge and valuable information which is provided. I am deeply grateful for Partners and have truly been enhanced as a person, a mother, an advocate and a Social Worker, to have such an experience. This is a wildfire that will spread out of control from wonderful work and efforts that Partner participants and their collaborative friends put forth in order to give so much to other people. Wonderfully amazing!!"

"I have a much better awareness – having the right attitude – I gained confidence. I learned about substantive rights, and gained some knowledge on where to go to ask for assistance."

"I have more self-confidence. I feel empowered to do what I need to – to get things done for my daughter. I have met so many people who have the ability to help me too."

"Partners has given me that extra confidence to speak and initiate conversation towards benefits of helping people with disabilities to be included in all areas of the community. Also I have helped other people open up about their abilities and to seek help."

"Partners has been a springboard in my career. I have moved to a school administration position in Special Education. I am also serving on the Governor’s Council for Family Support Services. These opportunities have allowed me to network with people across the state that serve me well in my new position so are able to provide appropriate services and resources to people with disabilities. I have begun writing a monthly column in our local newspaper entitled disABILITY Awareness. I have also been instrumental in starting a local family support group that is merging with a new funding source at present."

"I have no doubt that Partners has changed the course I guide my son toward – he definitely has more say in his treatment and his choices. With my knowledge gained in Partners I help other parents in problem-solving their decisions and I listen to the children in a whole new way. This year we hope to start a parent group for children on IEPs…to build cooperative strong bridges."

"It game me more confidence to assist others and stand up for myself and my child and to speak and ask questions so that our daughter in turn is learning those skills."

"It made me a more self-confident person. I worked on my Voc-Rehab person as soon as I got done with class to get going more on finding a job and four months later I have a job at the YWCA in Mitchell. I met some great friends! It was a great experience."

"I enjoyed meeting the other classmates. It greatly opened my eyes to others lives, their struggles, and accomplishments. I also altered my perception of my own daughter."

"It taught me to run my own meeting. It was a great learning experience to have been with Partners in Policymaking."

"Partners is a wonderful opportunity. I wish that more individuals/family members had the time to commit to the program. Thanks!"

"I would like to describe the value of the Partners program by the changes in my own life. I would have to say the program has fine-tuned my existing skills and has permitted me to learn and develop new ones. I learned valuable information and had hands on experiences within the "Disability World" that I would not have had without this program. These new skills have already allowed me to not only understand more about political procedures but it has given me the strength to participate more with political events. My new knowledge has also allowed me to assist parents not only in working life but in my personal life as well. As a special education teacher that has an alternative learning style I have recommended this program with my highest regards to the many families I not only work with but to my friends that have children with alternative needs as well. I hope in the future I will be able to make the time to get involved more within the disability community and make a positive difference in the political arena as I have in my own community."

"Partners has given me a better understanding of local and state government. Also it has given me the knowledge to help other people that are in need."

"Partners in Policymaking has given me the resources and extra knowledge and training I needed to help my children. It definitely gave me a better understanding of how local, state, and federal laws are written and protected. I am confident that I can continue to learn and advocate for my children and others in my community or that I meet and can help guide them to the help and resources they may need. Thank you Partners in Policymaking."

"By gaining more knowledge through Partners I am able to help other parents find answers and plan under the IDEA and disabilities act. Schools didn’t share this with them. I am currently visiting with senators to get a diabetes school care law passed as six other states have already passed."