Imagine!'s Leadership Development Group Update: March 2017Submitted by Jessica Gaylord
Cameron Navis, Alicia Burdick, and MacKenzie Haering
February 15 was the Alliance Awareness Day at the Colorado State Capital. A day when Colorado legislators recognized the Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) community, as well as the Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who support individuals accepting services.
The day started in the Capitol, where two people accepting services in Colorado recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Then the action started! I sat in the gallery above the Senate Hearing area and watched as different bills were presented and our elected representatives voted on amendments. When Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 17-009 came up, several different state representatives took the stand to share their stories and experiences. It was heartwarming to hear stories from people who don’t work directly in this field, but have still been inspired by someone living with I/DD. After several stories and a few happy tears, a unanimous ‘yes’ vote confirmed that the state will continue recognizing February 15 as a day to celebrate the I/DD community and to continue to support the potential of all – sound familiar?
The second half of the day was spent in a gallery area of the Denver Art Museum. The room was packed with people in celebration of Alliance Awareness Day – State Legislators, Imagine! CEO Mark Emery, people receiving services, and DSPs from a handful of organizations including Imagine!’s own Nicole Jackson who was nominated as our 2017 Direct Service Professional Honoree. Keynote speakers shared stories and thanked the room at large for all their hard work to help the people we serve achieve their goals, but they noted that there’s still room to grow and awareness to spread. However, all their stories faltered in comparison to the speech delivered by Rose Medina.
Rose was born with an intellectual disability. She stood before us and read a speech that she wrote, talking about the trials she endured in school and as she grew up in Texas. She was told she would not be able to read. “But they were wrong” she then read to the crowd. Since moving to Colorado ten years ago, Rose has become gainfully employed, enhanced her independence at home, and now she enjoys a fulfilling and more independent life. Her energy and pride lit the room; she even gave herself pats on the back throughout her speech. What a great reminder for the room at large of what a difference we can become in someone’s life.
The day was full of inspiration, love, and laughter. I’m so glad I was able to be a part of it because it reminded me of the positive impact we all have on the people that we all serve.
Sometimes working in this field can be hard, it can be frustrating, it can feel overwhelming, but this event helped remind me of the valuable opportunities we have as Imagine! team members. Everyone here at Imagine! deserves to be recognized for his or her achievements in this field; it may not be much, but from me to you – thank you for all that you do and the impact you’ve made in creating a world of opportunity for all abilities! I’m proud to be a part of this organization and to work with such amazing people – #allthefeels.