PERSPECTIVES: Facilitating Changes in Policy
Senator Nan Orrock and Representative Valencia Stovall spoke at the Employment Advocacy Days reminding attendees that sharing their story is the way to facilitate change in policy that affects people with disabilities. Below are excerpts of their brief addresses to the advocates.
Senator Nan Orrock (D - Atlanta)
I am the Senator from District 36 which is right here in Downtown Atlanta, all of Southeast Atlanta, Northeast Atlanta and a bit of Southwest Atlanta. The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities has been a long-time partner for a lot of battles fighting for disability issues. Your voices, your life experience and your passion on your issues is critically important and that is why people who see you and meet you, need to know your story. The strongest thing that you can do is share your story.
We’re the real experts on talking about our own lives, aren’t we? There’s nobody who knows more about your life than you do. So, sharing your story, sharing how you’ve taken and put other things to the side and made this your priority to come and be here today shows that you care about the issues.
The challenge to Georgia is to step up to the plate and address employment issues. We don’t have the best track record on that. That is why bringing your voices and your life experience here to the Capitol, and talking to your legislators is one of the strongest things that you can do to help move the needle. That helps get us in a position where we are fully engaging with the exciting possibilities of people with disabilities having many more entry paths to meaningful employment.
People have come down here, with their stories, and helped change policy. I have seen it. It can happen. That’s why we’re here today. Thank you for being involved. A lot of people cannot be here. You’re here for them. A lot of people don’t understand the importance of being here. I just want to applaud all of you for getting it and bringing your story here and engaging with us to set good policy for Georgia.
Representative Valencia Stovall (D - Forest Park)
I have a son who is has an intellectual developmental disability. He’s 25 and he still has some problems getting gainful employment. They want to give him something that is mediocre and don’t believe that he can work in a high paying job. I want to advocate here at the State and do whatever I can do to help push employment for the disability community.
I think that we’re missing a big jewel when it comes to employment when we are leaving out our individuals with developmental disabilities. It’s very important that you all come out to advocate, and share your stories for Employment First here in Georgia.
Stovall also serves with Chairwoman Katie Dempsey on the House Study Committee on Post-Secondary Options for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities.