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Mentors Find Good Company in Partners in Policymaking
Posted on May 27, 2015, by GAPMP
Marietta City Parent Mentor Ashley Gellis and Cherokee County Parent Mentor Joellen Hancock “sign off” at one of this year’s Partners in Policymaking session.
By Joellen Hancock and Jane Grillo
Partners in Policymaking is a training that provides the most comprehensive educational curriculum on how to effectively advocate and make your voice heard in Georgia. This is offered through AADD (All About Developmental Disabilities).
Thirty-five self-advocates, parents and caregivers representing a variety of disabilities, are selected to participate in the 2015 Georgia Partners in Policymaking class. Interactive, educational sessions are held at the AADD offices in in downtown Decatur. Two mentors graduated from this year’s class.
For the last 20 years, Partners in Policymaking has given participants the opportunity to connect with national and state experts on developmental disabilities, understand current issues and best practices, learn about policy making and the legislative processes and, network with others from across the state to create and affect positive change, and to establish and maintain positive and productive partnerships between individuals using services and policymakers who can influence change in their community and across the state of Georgia.
The Georgia Parent Mentor Partnership boasts 17 in the ranks who have graduated from Partners.
Here are some of the mentor’s comments about their participation in Partners:
Pam Walley, Madison County Parent Mentor, elaborated on the reasons she applied and what she got out of her experience.:
“I wanted to improve Callie’s life by finding solutions to our disability-related problems. I discovered the “secret” to a better life for Callie was 1. I needed to create the solutions and 2. I had more influence by working with others on similar journeys. Effective advocacy isn’t just about “me,” “my,” or “mine.” If you are privileged to be selected, you have an obligation to work for the greater good. That’s the only way to create lasting positive change. You can do it,” she said.
Jackie McNair, Gwinnett County Parent Mentor, also chimed in:
“I applied because I was broken after hearing that my child would live alive different from the one I had in mind. I realized I needed to learn all I could about how to support her life as an adult. The program helped me learn how to speak before an audience, work with a group of individuals on projects, develop relationships, interact with legislators, etc. It gave me a voice and I learned enough to start sharing
information with other parents who didn’t know where to turn. I would advise anyone applying for the program to go in with an open mind, listen and be willing to share. They should be willing to learn new
things and new ways of doing things; learn how to network,” she said.
Rose Calloway, Atlanta City Parent Mentor, shared her views:
“It is my goal to partner with organization with common goal, success for students with learning and developmental disability, and to assure the success of students within Atlanta Public Schools. While Parent Mentor partnership teaches me about mentoring parents, All About Developmental Disability’s Partners in Policymaking program, has taught how to advocate effectively. Participating in this program, took my advocacy to another level. I learned how not to burn bridges because you may have to travel that bridge again in the future. I also learned how important it is to roll up your sleeves and get involved. You must be ready to develop a win-win relationship. This is a partnership in which you will reap just as much as you sow,” she said.
Here is a list of the parent mentors who are Partners in Policymaking graduates:
This year’s program consisted of six sessions over a two 3-day weekends.
Joellen Hancock is the Cherokee County Parent Mentor and 2015 Partners graduate. Jane Grillo is content editor for this website.