by Carol Lanouette
A mother of a young lady with a disability invited me to a town meeting in Jefferson, Maine on March 15th. The young lady named Jennifer has cerebral palsy and her speech can be hard to understand. I was not able to get in touch with the advisor who usually supports me and decided to go on my own.
When we arrived at the meeting some people looked at us and whispered, this got me upset but I did not say anything at the time. It was a planning meeting for the town summer recreation activities. Jennifer raised her hand to speak during the meeting and she was ignored. I raised my hand and was allowed to talk. I told people that I am not from the community but was asked to come and support Jennifer and I asked if I could say something to everyone. I explained that even though Jennifer has a disability she is a part of the community and should be able to talk at the meeting. I explained that Jennifer had ideas for summer activities she would like to share. I thanked people for listening to me, asked them to give Jennifer a chance to speak and I sat down. Jennifer shared her ideas to take a picnic and go see a lighthouse. After the meeting there were refreshments and I talked to the man who had been running the meeting. I told him where I lived and about Speaking Up For Us. He said he had heard of SUFU but did not know the group teaches people with disabilities to speak up for themselves.
I told him that the director of activities could get in touch with myself or Dixie if they were interested in learning more about how they could help people to understand self-advocates.
I attended another meeting the next week and sat behind Jennifer. She raised her hand and was asked to speak. She had a hard time talking so she was given a pen and paper to write her ideas down. She suggested a dance and a carnival and all agreed they were good ideas. After the meeting was finished, people came to greet Jennifer and shake her hand, they invited her back to the next meeting.
I learned I can do things on my own.
< Previous Page Back to Newsletter Index Next Page >