Pigney graduates from training program Twenty-seven South Dakotans just spent the past six months training to be People Who Make Things Happen! Among the SD Partners in Policymaking Class of 2005 was Clarence Pigney of Vermillion.
These individuals, adults with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities, were honored in Sioux Falls on Saturday, April 16 for completing the innovative leadership program, Partners in Policymaking. Partners training analyzes developmental disability issues and builds skills that consumers, parents, and guardians need to effectively obtain the most appropriate state-of-the-art services for themselves and others and participate in decision making situations.
Over 250 people attended the banquet and commencement ceremonies at the Radisson Encore Hotel. Charisse Oland, CEO of Children's Care Hospital & School of Sioux Falls was the keynote speaker. She congratulated the class on their many accomplishments and told them "Things have changed and greatly improved over the years, however we still have some distance to cover."
Oland encouraged the class to "keep advocating for themselves." She said "Children's Care has been affiliated with Partners for eight years. We've sponsored 24 individuals for the training and I've seen those people grow and blossom and tackle obstacles and challenges with success. They've used their knowledge to run for office, volunteer on boards and to give themselves self-esteem."
Other dignitaries attending included, Jeff Munce and his wife Tracy, representing the city of Sioux Falls; Melanie Hunhoff of Sen. Tim Johnson's office, Emy Carlson representing Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth, and Ben Ready from the office of Sen. John Thune.
Partners in Policymaking in South Dakota is sponsored in part by grants from the South Dakota Council on Developmental Disabilities, Children's Care Hospital and School, USD Center for Disabilities and South Dakota Parent Connection. National and state speakers who are knowledgeable of disability issues present on current issues affecting people with disabilities, best practices, and the policymaking and legislative processes at the local, state, and federal levels.
The overall goal of Partners in Policymaking is to achieve a productive partnership between people needing and using services and those in a position to make policy and law. The training is one weekend per month, for six months, and takes dedication and commitment on the part of the participant.
The training program in South Dakota is conducted by SD Advocacy Services (SDAS). Sandy Stocklin Hook of Pierre is the project coordinator for the statewide training course. She said, "We now have over 300 individuals who have completed Partners in Policymaking throughout South Dakota. Their voices are being heard. We strongly believe that individuals who use services should have a major role in determining what services they are being provided and how they are delivered. It is really exciting to see the Partners' enthusiasm and commitment to improving national, state and local services."
Robert Kean, executive director of SDAS, said "Partners is a training event that is growing in stature and being recognized as one of, if not the premier advocacy effort in the state."
In addition to graduation ceremonies, 91 graduates of prior years of SD Partners in Policymaking spent the weekend in Sioux Falls attending continuing education classes on current issues.
"Networking is a very integral of the entire training initiative. We have made a commitment to gather all graduates with the current class and offer continuing education and networking. Once a Partner graduates from the course, they are not forgotten," said Stocklin Hook. Continuing education classes included such important topics as IDEA, Housing/Rental Information, Public Speaking, Employment, Will/Trusts/Estates and Tai Chi and Self-Defense.
Year 14 of Partners in Policymaking will begin in November 2005. For more information on the program, contact Sandy Stocklin Hook, SD Advocacy Services, 221 S. Central Ave., Pierre, SD 57501 or call 1-800-658-4782. Or visit the SDAS Web site for Partner information at www.sdadvocacy.com or email email@example.com.