This statement by a group of people with developmental disabilities in Southeast New Mexico says it all:
“We are presumed incompetent because of our disabilities and prevented from taking risks and making mistakes. Decisions are made for us by guardians, family members, interdisciplinary teams, case managers, service providers, the system.
“We are protected, disciplined and babied by [interdisciplinary] team members who treat us as though we are their minor children.
“We live with rules and safeguards that in essence keep us institutionalized. It’s as though we are still waiting to get out.”
People with developmental disabilities are ready to take control of their lives and become full citizens in their communities, but many don't have the knowledge and skills to advocate for themselves. With training in self-advocacy, leadership and community building, people with developmental disabilities can fulfill their own life dreams and help build communities that welcome and use the assets of all citizens.
Matthew Heady has undergone a process of personal development to develop his knowledge and skills, which includes training in public speaking and training techniques. He and other people who have developmental disabilities, with support from some advocates, have developed two training series.
"Let's Take a Power Trip" addresses the following objectives:
• Learn how to support people receiving services to build personal power
• Learn how to become partners in advocacy
• Appreciate the capacity of your community to make positive change for everyone
• Discover your group’s assets
• Understand the importance of communication & teamwork
• Understand what it means to be a leader
• Develop a collective vision for an inclusive community
"No More Waiting on the World to Change" addresses the following:
• Gain insight into the life experiences of people with developmental disabilities
• Understand the importance of knowing someone’s personal story
• Develop awareness of the history of developmental disability services in NM
• Wonder about what’s possible for our future
• Learn the “don’ts” according to people who receive services
• Understand the importance of the language we use
• Understand what people receiving services find most helpful in the way we support them
• Get real about the non-sensical nature of our support to people receiving services
• Think about ways of supporting people that make more sense
• Appreciate what “dignity of risk” really means
• Develop strategies for empowering the people you support
This project will enable Matthew to present these series in 5 New Mexico communities for an unlimited number of people with developmental disabilities, family members, advocates, support providers and general community members.