Almost 800 people were in attendance at the Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) National Convention held in Oklahoma City in October 9-12, 2014. Attendees came from almost every state, Canada, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Representing Jefferson County were self-advocates Jan Beckett, President of Speaking for Ourselves Colorado, George Giles, Julie Anthony, and Joan Jurann. In all, 43 people from Colorado attended, making ours the second largest delegation there.
The conference itself was an exceptional experience. With opening speakers such as the Commissioner on the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and a representative from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, there was much to learn. Keynote speakers included the Pearce Brothers, one of whom is a famous Olympic snowboarder who crashed and his brother with “UP Syndrome.”
Gary Guller also inspired us as he shared his story of leading a group of persons with disabilities as they climbed Mt. Everest.
Outside of the general sessions, there were an incredible number of other learning opportunities. Self-advocates enjoyed their choice of 57 breakout sessions during five different time slots. Some topics were employment and self-employment, technology, healthcare, relationships, Medicaid changes, civil rights, human rights, the history of self-advocacy, siblings, person centered thinking, trivia, Scrapbooking, and Advocating Change Together – just to name a few!
Colorado now has a national SABE representative from Denver’s chapter of People First as the Region 3 representative on the SABE board for the next two years.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The four Jefferson County self-advocates who attended stated:
- “We have learned the importance of activism.”
- “We see the need to recruit people of all ages to keep the self-advocacy movement going, and growing with new members.”
- “We need to act locally, as well as in our state to involve all.”
- “We need to have a presence in decision-making.”
- “We need to become more involved on different committees and boards.”
And our most exciting development: there is a movement underway to have Colorado host a national SABE convention in the future! Look to our newsletter, People First and Coffee House gatherings, along with Speaking for Ourselves, the state-wide advocacy organization, to learn more as plans progress.
Self-Advocacy is alive and well in Colorado and needs your participation. If you are interested in attending a meeting of People First in Jefferson County, please contact Jeanne Weis at (303) 232-1338.