Individuals with disabilities and their families are passionate about many issues that affect them, yet few feel confident and knowledgeable enough to craft and share their personal struggles with those who can implement systemic change, so many important stories, unfortunately, go untold.
The Down Syndrome Association of Middle TN and Autism Tennessee want to empower families and self-advocates to tell their stories. In simplest terms, self-advocacy is about finding your voice, like learning how to ask for assistance in finding work. Self-direction is about using your voice, such as deciding where you want to work rather than having someone else make that choice for you. At the highest level, self-determination is owning your voice, and it can include taking the responsibility to maintain employment over a long period of time.
Our Stories teaches participants to discover their own stories, why its important to tell those stories and how to tell them. It involves a 6-week training and produces print and video stories for each participant. We then host an elegant dinner for key stakeholders and legislators to both inform them of the realities of living with a disability and also raise awareness as to the various obstacles and challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and their families, such as meaningful inclusion, transportation, safe and affordable housing options, difficulty navigating bureaucracy, awareness about disability, insurance and lack of appropriate public education.