Thinking About How We Are Powerful

In 2010 the State of California was in the middle of a severe budget short fall. Governor Brown proposed $750,000,000 in cuts to Regional Centers and the Department of Developmental Services which provides most of the funding for client services. It was scary time.

In an  attempt to make their voices heard, ACAT students decided as a group to take a trip up to Sacramento for the state budget hearings. The students made signs based on their rights under the Lanterman Act which were threatened by the cuts. We packed lunches, protest signs, and headed off in a bus and a van.

I made the trip in a van a little before the others with four students who thought they might like to speak in front of the budget committee [as it turned out we ran out of time and they didn’t speak directly to legislators]. We arrived to find the sidewalks around the state capital occupied by hundreds and hundreds of chanting and sign carrying disabled youth. Like the ACAT youth, these were mostly youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The four ACAT students watched the other youths for a few minutes, then grabbed some protest signs and joined in the march, chanting, shouting and laughing at the incredible noise of it all!

Sacramento, 2010

Sacramento, 2010

The inside of the state capital was filled to overflowing with thousands of disabled people. If I remember correctly, it was the largest number of people yo ever speak at a budget hearing in California history. At one point there were so many people inside of the capital, the police stopped letting people in. It was amazing. There were long lines of people waiting hours to speak; all disabilities, families, support staff, providers. All of us there, physically there, united, passionate and powerful.

I know we are frustratingly invisible to the world at times, but there is an indescribable power in our collected-selves, whether we identifying as disabled, or neuro-atypical, or as families, or as allies The power contained in us is deep and real. It might be the most beautiful thing in the world.

[Brent White is Autistic. He designs and directs adult programs for intellectually and developmentally disabled adults for the non-profit Ala Costa Centers in Berkeley, California].

One Response to Thinking About How We Are Powerful

  1. Chris W says:

    The Self-Determination options California Department of Developmental Services is suggesting for parents is a scam. This is DDS and Regional Center’s way of still collecting federal funds for the waivers they claim for clients, while pushing all the duties and responsibility to secure services onto already stressed out families…….it’s not good for parents or the disabled, unless your child is HF/mild and needs just a little bit of help. If your child needs a lot of services, the Self Determination option is a bad, bad idea. It will overwhelm most parents and saddle parents with an undue burden of having to the jobs these Regional Centers are PAID TO DO out of federal funds they receive. The Regional Centers are trying to slowly pulling away from their case management duties and con unsuspecting parents into becoming the case mangers, service coordinators and accountants, etc…all the things these Regional Center people are paid to do….

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