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Advocating for the Disabled? Hear. Share. Act. Is Coming to Boone Sept. 10 and Welcomes Community Participation

By Sherrie Norris 

How many times have you wanted to speak out on behalf of individuals with Intellectual and developmental disabilities, especially those who are often overlooked and rarely receive the attention and services they deserve?

If this question resonates with you, even just a little bit, your time to be heard is just a few days away.

Hear. Share. Act. Is coming to the campus of Appalachian State University in Boone, Saturday, Sept. 10 for a three-hour session, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.. The event will give individuals with I/DD, their families and caregivers the opportunity to speak out, while learning about unmet services and support needs in the area.

Representatives from Parent to Parent Family Support Network of the High Country, along with Leadership Alliance for Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LAND), NC Council on Developmental Disabilities (NCCDD) and Meet the Needs NC, will be on hand to meet with and hear from involved and interested parties.

Organizers tell us the event will bring together community partners, agency leaders and policymakers to hear personal stories, share resources and provide education on how we can advocate, educate and inform key decision-makers on the importance of listening to the voices of those with I/DD lived experience. 

If you are interested in learning how to have your voice heard on the disability system in North Carolina, this event is for you.

“To be able to help bring the High Country community together to have a conversation around needs for our individuals with I/DD and their families/caregivers, is so exciting,”  said Diane Coffey

Family Engagement Consultant with Parent to Parent Family Support Network of the High Country, which serves Ashe, Avery, Alleghany, Mitchell, Wilkes, Watauga and Yancey counties. “Knowing that our I/DD community is going to be able to share their ‘lived experiences,’ to speak up and advocate for their needs is wonderful. I cannot wait to see what great things will come from these events.”  

NCCDD funded this initiative to develop a collective approach to address the crisis of individuals in North Carolina with developmental disabilities not having the services and supports they need, said Talley Wells, the agency’s executive director. “We wanted self-advocates with developmental disabilities, family members, stakeholders and state leaders to come together to tackle this crisis. This is critical because Medicaid for developmental disabilities is undergoing a massive transformation. We need to ensure  that through these changes, people on the waiting list receive services, and there is a strong workforce to meet the need.” 

Beth Field, program director for Meet the Need NC, added, “Through these events, we want to pull together the I/DD community across disabilities and needs. We want to hear about the I/DD service and support needs of more rural communities in NC, share information on current issues impacting I/DD communities, and we want encourage people with I/DD to tell their stories — to educate and inform policymakers, schools, neighbors and many others to ask (now!) for what they need to improve the lives of those with I/DD and their families/caretakers.”

Anyone who has a stake in the I/DD world is invited to join together at the event, organizers added . . . “As we learn how to tell our stories, stock up on local resources for people with disabilities and talk to our policymakers about what’s working — and what’s broken — in North Carolina’s I/DD service world!”   

As a regional event, and one of two in the state, it is vital that we help spread the word and encourage people with I/DD to attend, along with their families and/or caregivers. 

“We want to have as many attendees as possible, this is a great opportunity to tell their stories, good or bad, to policymakers. Have policymakers hear from the ones who have lived experience. The two events are the start of what will hopefully grow to great things happening across NC to support people with I/DD and their families/caregivers” 

Volunteers are also needed for the day of the event; if you would like give of your time, or if you know students who need volunteer hours, email Diane Coffey at [email protected] or go to the following Google Doc and sign up https://forms.gle/PCcsxRxA3AWBLmk48.

The event will be held at Appalachia State University Reich College of Education Building, 151 College Street in Boone.

Please Register here:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hear-share-act-boone-nc-tickets-378015553697

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