Harvey chosen for leadership training Twenty-eight individuals from 18 counties throughout South Dakota comprise the Partners in Policymaking Class of 2003 (Year 11). Dennis Harvey of Vermillion has been chosen to participate in the Year 11 training program. Coordinator of the program, Sandy Stocklin of South Dakota Advocacy Services in Pierre said, "The selection committee does a great job in filling the class. Choosing the participants is always difficult as we receive so many excellent and qualified applications. We receive around 60 applications. Dennis' application was exceptional and will be a valuable asset to the class."
Partners training gives individuals knowledge of available resources and assistance to vastly improve their futures. It helps to open doors to a new world of opportunities, not only just for themselves but also for the entire disability community. After graduation from Partners many individuals start community groups designed to help people find the resources and funding needed to assist in developing their lives to the fullest potential possible. Partners in Policymaking focuses on four key outcomes: 1) independence 2) inclusion 3) integration and 4) productivity.
One weekend per month from November through April these individuals make time from their own hectic schedules to participate in a unique program that ultimately leads to richer, fuller, and more productive lives for themselves and their family members. They will become active partners ? partners with community organizations, partners with each other.
Partners is about empowerment, extending to individuals with disabilities and their families the skills and information and tools needed to access service delivery systems and when the systems aren't responsive, Partners gives individuals the tools to help change the system.
Partner graduates know how to exert influence; they know the right thing to say to the right people at the right time. Partners join others for help and assistance and they learn what means to use and what means to not use when approaching service delivery systems. Participants learn which person/persons to communicate with and who is apt to listen to them. Participants learn how to avoid "turn-offs."
Partners learn about the history of the disability movement in our culture and how the past affects the present and also the future. They learn that education for children with disabilities can be in the "regular" classroom at their neighborhood schools, they learn how services provided by state and local governments are coordinated and delivered, they learn how to leg work so Partners will be more effective advocates and lobbyists, how assistive technology can make a difference between being dependent and independent, how real employment for real wages can be achieved.
Participants also learn grass roots community organizing and how to effectively use the media; they learn parliamentary procedure enabling them to more effectively influence and participate in the policies that affect the future. Partners in Policymaking trains individuals to become leaders in organizations. Partners help individuals grow and how changes in their lives will make a difference for the lives of others. Participants leave with enthusiasm, self-esteem and knowledge.
Partners programs have been implemented in 46 states and more than 8,600 graduates nationwide are part of a growing national network of community leaders serving on policy making committees, commissions, councils, and boards at the local, state and national levels. South Dakota has over 200 graduates.
Stocklin said, "Our commitment to Partners in Policymaking is to consistently maintain a high quality program. Partners make a commitment to attend all the sessions and we make a commitment that their time will be well spent. They can expect the best because we provide the best! The speakers/presenters are experts in their fields and interact with the participants."
Partners is funded in part by grants from the South Dakota Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities, Children's Care Hospital and School, USD Center for Disabilities and South Dakota Parent Connection. South Dakota Advocacy Services facilitates and coordinates the training.