409 Linden Avenue   Jackson MI  49203    www.disabilityconnect.org
    advocacy... because, your voice counts!

The highly charged political scene in our country has motivated many people to become engaged in the democratic process. If you’ve never been involved in advocacy, it can be a little intimidating figuring out how to get started or what method of engagement is most appropriate for you. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Contact your elected officials

Remember, elected officials work for you! Your tax dollars pay their salary and they are in office to represent their constituents – that's you!  To learn who your local elected or appointed officials are, visit your city or town’s website or call your town/city hall to inquire. To find out who your state and federal representatives are, you can go to www.CommonCause.org and click on “Find Your Lawmakers” at the top of the screen. Type in your address and the site will list your state and federal representatives along with links to their websites and contact information.

You can send a letter, email or call your representatives to let them know what issues are important to you and where you stand. You should include your name, address and zip code so they can verify that you live in their district. Many state representatives conduct town hall meetings or coffee hours to meet with the public. You can find that information on their website or by contacting their office.

Join a political party, volunteer with a campaign or run for office!

If your issues align with a political party or a specific candidate, you can volunteer with their campaign to further the cause. There are usually a variety of tasks volunteers can help with, such as stuffing envelopes, making phone calls, collecting signatures, or going door to door to talk with voters.

If a supporting role isn’t what you had in mind, you can run for office yourself! Determine where you have the most experience and how you can make the kind of difference you want to make. Perhaps you can start at the local level with a County, City or School Board position.

Support organizations that are working on your issues

Find out if there are organizations already engaged in the issues you are most passionate about and lend them your time, talent or financial support. You might support your cause by attending a rally or peaceful protest or by volunteering in any number of ways.

Speak up!

If nothing else, be sure to talk about your point of view with other people – both friends and strangers. Develop your “elevator speech” – a concise but compelling description of the change you’d like to see. Don’t be afraid to engage people in a respectful conversation. Be prepared to make your points and listen to theirs. This can be a little intimidating, so start with your friends and family; the more you do it, the easier it will become.

“The moment you let others speak for you, you lose.”
— Ed Roberts, Disability Rights Advocate

Article from friends at The Link-disAbility Network MI


WHAT COULD BE MORE                   IMPORTANT THAN                                ADVOCATING FOR                MY FUTURE?!
Shane O'Neil graduated this year from the Kit Young Center's Young Adult Program. Shane and his family set upon this graduation with a purpose and that was advocating for Shane's future!  Shane and his mother Mary began working with Holly Peterson (Parent Education & Resource Coordinator) from disAbility Connections years ago and now were working as a team with her to move forward on his very important life beyond school!

Shane was going to need ongoing assistance to focus on independence at his level of ability.  He wants to continue to be active with social groups, play basketball, volunteer and workWith a boost from Holly, Mary and Shane advocated for "Self Determination" and are now in the process of hiring staff to assist Shane in the community and to continue working on his personal goals of independence. 

We are "ON A ROLL"

Recently the Jackson County Parks Department launched a B-Cycle bike sharing program on Falling Waters Trail at Weatherwax Drive. Residents can now rent one of six bikes for $6 for the first three hours and $2 per hour thereafter. Residents also have the option of a $50 yearly membership fee (first 3 hrs free, $2 an hour thereafter). 

disAbility Connections is introducing a parallel program using the three adaptive bikes in our inventory! The “On A Roll”  bike rental program will now be available at disAbility Connections..  Daily rental is $5 for the first 3 hours , $2 for each additional hour. A membership can be purchased at the same rate as the B-Cycle program. Bikes are available Monday through Friday during normal business hours, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Article contributed by Ashley Hintz - disAbility Connections Intern

    Join disAbility Connections at this year's Hot Air Jubilee held at Ella Sharp Park July 14-16.  We will be there assisting persons with disabilities and directing parking.  Accessible parking is located at the south end of the park near the museum.  The entrance for this lot (which requires a disability placard or plate) will be off of Stonewall Road at S. Oakwood Drive. 

    The GOGOs are a group of adults with disabilities who meet monthly for friendship and fun. July marks our 9th Annual SUMMER CAMP!  It will be held on Thursday, July 20th from 11 AM to 7 PM at Camp McGregor. If you would like more information on attending or volunteering- contact Holly at 990-8061.

    The disAbility Awareness Dinner will be held this year at the Country Club of Jackson on Thursday, October  5, 2017.  Our speaker will be the Honorable Richard Bernstein.
 We are still looking for input from readers for a catchy name for our newsletter!
Send in your name suggestions  to  holly@disabilityconnect.org.
The chosen name will award the winner with                    MOVIE AND DINNER for 2!!!