I do not enjoy politics. I barely knew what an advocate was. Now I am a fierce advocate that works to better the world for people with disabilities. I know about every election. I post those annoying pictures of my kids in front of a Vote Here sign while teaching them to advocate for themselves.
What do I do as an Advocate?
My Legislatures get a phone call when I oppose an upcoming spending cut or bill that would impact my children. I go to the State Capital and Legislative Round Tables to testify about what it is like to raise a family with three children with autism and how important supports and funding are. Also the Legislative Session beginning and ending is in my calendar . My Political Science Professor would be shocked at my level of involvement considering I barely passed with a D.
Getting Over Fears
When I first started calling Legislators and Senators with concerns about the upcoming Legislative Session, I was so intimidated. My palms would sweat and I could feel my heart racing. I would panic that my mind would go blank or I would quote the wrong facts. I would often hang up after the first ring and call back once I built up my confidence. But after a dozen calls, I realized that making these calls is no big deal. My confidence came from forcing myself to overcome my fears of looking like a fool.
A few tips that I have learned to help with making these calls, is to join local advocacy groups. I am a member of LaCAN, it is free to join. LaCAN sends out fact sheets about upcoming budget cuts or policy changes that may impact the Developmental Disability Community. I would print up my fact sheet from LaCAN, read it once or twice, and then make my calls. Having my fact sheet in front of me made it easier for me to correct myself. I did this often when I first started. Even though I made a few slip ups I still was able to convey the message that I wanted to.
If phone calls aren’t your thing, you can send emails. I can’t tell you how many emails I have sent! You can use the fact sheet from an advocacy group, or you can research your own statistics. The latter is a little bit trickier, you have to make sure the facts you use come from a valid source. Your email can even be as simple as, Dear….. I do not support Bill 123, or cuts to Regional Services Authorities. I reside in your district. Thank you, Jane Citizen.
Your votes put these officials in office, if you don’t tell them what you want they will choose for you. Elected Officials are Public Servants and want to hear from you, let your voice be heard, and sign up to become a LaCAN member!