I started Partners in Policymaking this weekend. Every state but Vermont does a PIP class and it started right here in Minnesota, 25 years ago.
It's a government program that trains us to fight for government policies for people with disabilities. In other words, the government is teaching me how to fight the government. How awesome is that?
Classes are once a month on a Friday and Saturday, for this whole school year, ending with a big graduation in May. In March our class will go to the capitol for Disability Day, which I did this past spring, but I felt like a fish who'd flopped out of my little glass bowl. Maybe going with my PIP class this coming year will make it less awkward.
Anyway, Friday, the very first day, the first thing they did was shock us into realizing how badly people are needed to work to promote legislation for people with disabilities.
You know how when there's a story on the news about a child or a person with a disability being abused or injured or killed, and you tend to turn away or turn it off altogether, because it is just too disturbing and you'd rather not hear it? Imagine if you had to sit through story after story after story for several hours. My stomach turned over about six times.
There was a detailed and lengthy account of how people with disabilities have been treated and viewed throughout history. Horrifying stories of torture, abuse, neglect, exploitation, misunderstanding, and disrespect. Nearly every example from history was followed by a recent news story showing us how the very same types of treatment and abuse and misunderstanding occur today.
So we were all emotionally smacked upside the head.
Suffice it to say, it wasn't light entertainment.
It's going to be grueling. But I have a sneaking suspicion this may turn out to be the most valuable schooling I've ever gotten.
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