Governor Deal To Speak at 15th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol
Over 2,000 From Across Georgia Expected at One of Largest Rallies on Capitol Steps - "What's Your Connection?"
ATLANTA, GA (Feb. 6, 2013) – Governor Nathan Deal will deliver the keynote address to an anticipated 2,000 people with disabilities, their families and advocates at the 15th Annual Disability Day at the Capitol on Thursday, February 21 at 11am, sponsored by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (www.GCDD.org). People will gather to share with legislators how disability affects their lives via the day's theme, "What's Your Connection?"
Disability affects one in five Georgians and about 57 million Americans. The rally, which is one of the largest public gatherings held each year during Georgia's General Assembly, is an opportunity for the disability community to communicate important issues and needs to legislators.
"Our message at Georgia's 2013 legislative session is that we cannot bear any cuts to direct services when there are 7,500 people still on the waiting list for waivers," Eric E. Jacobson, GCDD Executive Director, said. "It's true we are making strides toward getting people with disabilities out of institutions and into the community with real supports, but clearly much more is needed when 2,000 people gather on the Capitol steps to share their connection to disability and their community."
GCDD's 2013 Legislative Agenda promotes Real Communities with specific supports for learning (high school and post-secondary programs) and homes (new home access legislation), as well as specific bills such as the State Individual Development Account (IDA) (enables saving for assistive technology, accessible vehicles or home modifications) and The Family Care Act (paid sick leave to care for children or aging parents).
"What's Your Connection?", the theme for this year's Rally, echoes the United States Office of Disability Employment Policy grassroots outreach program to gather individual stories from across the nation to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its interactive information website, www.disability.gov. The site encourages people across the United States to submit stories via photo or video to share their connection to disability.
"At Disability Day, we show we are all connected to disability" Jacobson said. "Whether you have a disability yourself, your child or sibling has Down syndrome or autism, your parent or grandparent is aging, your neighbor is a wounded war veteran or your co-worker is visually impaired, chances are someone in your community that you know and care about has a disability. 'Are You Connected?' takes it one step further and asks us all to get involved in our various communities." At Disability Day at the Capitol, high school students from Partnership for Success throughout Georgia will host an activity where rally attendees can get information about and even submit their story to share "What's Your Connection."
In addition to Governor Deal and Jacobson, other speakers will include Frank Berry, Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) and Greg Schmieg, Executive Director of the newly formed Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA). D'Arcy Robb, GCDD's new Public Policy Director, will recognize legislators in attendance. Rabbi Analia Bortz, Congregation Or Hadash, will lead a moment of silence to honor the memory of "Fallen Soldiers," Georgia's recently deceased disability advocates.
Disability Day at the Capitol, sponsored by GCDD with support from a host of state advocacy groups and partners, begins at 9 am with t-shirt pick up, activities, information and exhibits at the Georgia Freight Depot, adjacent to the Capitol. After the 11 am Rally, legislators from both sides of the aisle will join attendees for lunch around 12:15 pm (first come, first served) at the Georgia Freight Depot. During lunch GCDD will present two advocacy awards for outstanding service to the disability community.