United Self-Advocacy Summit a Big Success

On June 13 and 14, approximately 60 self-advocates and their supporters representing seven organizations from across Iowa gathered in Cedar Rapids for the first-ever Iowa self-advocacy summit. Peer Action Disability Support (PADS), a Linn county-based self-advocacy organization, hosted the event with grant funding from the Administration for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Events kicked off on Thursday evening with a festive pizza party. Guests took the opportunity to network and to express their appreciation for the chance to meet peers from across the state.

Cherie Clark, a long-time disability rights activist and 2013 PADS president, set the tone for the summit by delivering an impassioned opening keynote. "It’s great to see so many disabilities represented here," she stated. "We’re honored that you took the time to come to Cedar Rapids. It shows that you are truly committed to becoming strong advocates!"

Participants then attended breakout sessions entitled "Self-Advocacy and Disability Rights," "Leadership," and "Making Organizations Stronger." Presenters included self-advocates and representatives of the Iowa DD Council, Disability Rights Iowa, Statewide Independent Living Council, Heritage Area Agency on Aging, and Center for Disabilities and Development. In his luncheon keynote presentation, Chuck Graham, Associate Director of the Great Plains ADA Center in Columbia, MO, drew upon his personal experiences living with disabilities to remind participants that everyone has a great deal to contribute. The summit wrapped up with participants sharing what they learned and describing their hopes for the future.

PADS Vice-President Robin Brunner summed up the event this way. "It was energizing to be among so many engaged and engaging, interested and interesting people showing resilience, being proud and out loud and courageous about effecting change. It was a wonderful way to fuel each other’s passions. What an awe-inspiring event!"

The above text is from the Summer 2013 issue of "Possibilities in Education and Training," the Quarterly Newsletter of the Connor Training Consortium

Find this and other Newsletters from the Conner Training Consortium

Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Newsletter Article about the Summit

USA Summit Resources

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