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Paying it Forward

Paying it Forward

Partners in Policymaking by Mickie Brown

Twenty years ago, I took a class that totally changed my life and gave me the tools and resources to advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities–people like Noah’s Landing resident Kathy Pilczuk. Now I have the honor of helping Kathy pay it forward.

In June, Kathy accompanied me to the Family Cafe where she learned about Partners in Policymaking, which teaches individuals with developmental disabilities and parents to become community leaders and catalysts for change.The goal of Partners is to develop productive partnerships between people who need and use services and those in a position to provide them through policies and laws.

At the Cafe in Orlando, Kathy met the Statewide Project Coordinator for Partners In Policymaking. After attending a workshop, she decided to fill out the application in hopes of being one of the lucky people to get accepted. Months later…

Kathy received the exciting news that she was one of 32 chosen for the program out of 126 applicants.

Every student in the class chooses a project as one of their assignments – something they are passionate about. Mine was Noahs’s Ark, in the early days when it was called Vision 2000. The Partners class taught me how to lobby elected officials to get laws passed that would allow our dream – Noah’s Landing – to come to fruition.

For her project, Kathy is thinking of a way to educate first responders on how to approach a person with a disability who might be misunderstood and looked at as resisting an officer or refusing a sincere offer to help.

Kathy and I have made a commitment for the next six months to attend Partners training one weekend a month. For Kathy, it meant giving up favorite activities like Out of the Box and Special Olympics.

Stay tuned because I’m sure there will be more updates about Kathy’s next five months as she grows and blossoms into a better “self advocate” for herself and people around her. It’s powerful knowing your voice matters when advocating on the behalf of others at Noah’s Landing or on trips to Tallahassee and possibly even to Washington DC.

Like my daughter, Brittany, a graduate of the class, Kathy will soon be paying it forward!

Noah's Ark

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