Saturday, July 19, 2008

My son has Down syndrome and I VOTE!

What a weekend we had in Boston! And we won't even get into the Barking Crab! And it continued through this week and into this weekend so I have not had a chance to add much until today.

Last Friday - Sunday I spent most of my time inside sessions at the Annual National Down Syndrome Congress National Convention. Nothing like spending the weekend with 3,000 good friends talking about issues, ideas and opportunities.

We also had our DADS booth there and presented on our organization in the Sunday morning sessions. I had the opportunity to chat with fellow DADS from around the country including our own Pacers Head Coach Jim O'Brien and MA State Representative Tom Sannicondro. So we now have an NBA head coach and an elected official wearing DADS hats. How cool is that.

I spent most of my time in sessions on Post Secondary Education and Employment educational settings. Many of you may know that Nash has Down syndrome and that he is only 7 so why would I spend my time in those sessions? Because Indiana is close to the bottom on both of these issues. As a matter of fact in one session on Post Secondary Education they put up a map of the nation. In each state where stars for all the post secondary opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities and there was my beloved Indiana staring at me with a big....ZERO!

I also had the chance to listen to a presentation by the HR Director from Walgreen's distribution and heard all the really amazing things going on in their new state of the art facility in South Carolina. Interesting that it is 20% more productive then any of their other locations and 30% of their workforce has a significant disability. I have some really cool info on this on a DVD to post as soon as I can figure out how to post it here.

I decided to post this picture of Nash and I taken last night while we had a house full of good friends who also happen to have a child with Down syndrome. I thought it was a really good pic of Nash and I and I had my Arc of Indiana t-shirt on.

Why is that important? The Arc of Indiana is the largest legislative and Advocacy group in Indiana for individuals with intellectual Disabilities. And this September they are having a convention in Indiana for self advocates with disabilities from around the country. One of the guests at that conference will be my fellow DADS member Representative Tom Sannicandro who was instrumental in getting funding in MA for post secondary programs. I am putting together a dinner with Tom and a few others.

Now, I want to offer an invite to both Governor Mitch Daniels and Candidate Jill Long Thompson to join us for that dinner to discuss this issue with us.

So you ask why should an elected official take the time to chat with us?

There are 52 million people with a disability in the United States. If you add mother, father, brother, sister, aunt and uncle to that number it gets pretty damn big and guess what...


Peace Dude!


Cara said...

Such a lovely picture of you and your son, wonderful.

Bonita y Marco said...

Hi Jeff,
I enjoyed reading your post. I recently completed "Strong Love", a film about a couple both born with DS who decide to marry. Thinking about long term possibilities for your adorable son NOW makes a lot of sense. In the film, Holly and Jon also have parents who were always looking into the future for their children who are very successful adults today.

You can see excerpts from the film on YouTube, if you like:

I hadn't heard about your Dads' organization- I'm glad to learn about it.

Good luck.
Bonnie Burt

Anonymous said...

great post and very interesting side-story about Jim O'Brien - he is great for our community