Thursday, March 6, 2008

Congratulations, Georgia Voices That Count, Class of 2008..!

A special email from the fingertips of Linda Pogue at disABILITY LINK in Decatur..

And I quoteth (with just the teensie, tiniest of editables).......

GVTC#6 graduates (and supporters),

Congratulations upon becoming Georgia Voices That Count graduates! We think of you as members of the GVTC family from the moment you first signed on - now you are official! You join over 75 GVTC graduates, advocates from across Georgia who have made a commitment to working in your communities for improved access, inclusion and self determination for people with disabilities.

Thanks to ALL the supporters, presenters, sponsors and others who helped create the GVTC experience and especially to those who joined us for the GVTC graduation (and those who would have been there if they could) to add their power to the GVTC family. There were some wise words spoken at the meeting and graduation. While I am not claiming the following words to be "wise," I do want to make sure you heard them loud and clear.

I have a multiple choice question for the GVTC graduates.....

I applied for GVTC because:

  • a. Someone I know said it would be good for me
  • b. I thought it would be interesting
  • c. You get to hang out with a great group of people
  • d. I like to be involved
  • e. I have a passion for justice, I want to make a positive difference in the world, I know I have a responsibility to do what I can for the disability community and I need help and support to be the best advocate for myself and other people with disabilities

Any of the answers are right, but of course (e) is the real point of the exercise!

I want to tell you something straight - ready?

Keep busy , having fun, and being involved are all very well, we all need those elements in our lives, but, if you do not make the move from taking part in training meetings to taking part in the disability movement, then who will?

  • Who will advocate if not you?
  • How will things change for the better if you are not going to try to make it happen?
  • Who will speak to the elected representatives if not you?
  • Who will reduce stigma and pity for people with disabilities if not you?
  • Who will help people move out of nursing facilities and other institutions if not you?
  • Who will make our communities more accessible if not you?
  • Who will make our communities more inclusive if not you?

That's right - it is all about YOU!

Please think about it:

  • The Georgia Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) recognized the need for more people with disabilities to become advocates, activists and leaders - and so they fund GVTC as part of their work
  • disABILITY LINK supplied expertise, organizations, passion, resources, etc. to create and administer GVTC
  • Then many people, representing many different organizations, donated their time and energy to make presentations to you at the GVTC meetings - to help you learn and consider important topics
  • Plus many people donated their time and energy as supporters during and between the GVTC meetings - to help make it easier for you to participate
  • Current leaders and activists have supported and encouraged you to make the next move in your advocacy career
  • All these organizations and people do this because they see the need, and believe you are the right people to fulfill the role!

Maybe you are already stepping out, taking risks, becoming leaders, doing what needs to be done? I am now encouraging you to take it further.

No one can do it the same as you - you are the best people for the job - others can only encourage and support you - you have to do it - it is you who other people are looking to - do you really want other people to make the decisions for you? - you are the future - it is a huge responsibility, but you are up to it because you are GVTC graduates.

Thank you from me - from the disability community - from everyone!

Like James Allen says, "How do you eat a whale?" - one bite at a time!

So work hard, be well, keep in touch - thanks and best wishes, Linda

Oh, Linda.. A WHALE..? Really..? :wink:

To my fellow graduates, PLEASE never forget the crescendo of empowerment that welled through you as each, your different Georgia Voices training years progressed.. PLEASE find some way to pay it forward to others around you in your respective communities..

Warmest cyber hugs of celebration from a fellow graduate,
Cindy Sue Causey, GVTC#3, Class of 2005..

United In Advocacy..!

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