Applications for the Partners in Policymaking program are currently being accepted through July 10.
Minnesotans with disabilities, and parents of young children with developmental disabilities are encouraged to apply for the no-cost leadership training program where they can gain tools and strategies to better advocate for their needs.
A number of area residents have gone through the program and found it helpful.
Heather Tidd of Rosemount has teenagers with several neurological disorders including one with an Asperger spectrum diagnosis.
The younger daughter and son were adopted and have fetal alcohol syndrome and PTSD.
She also leads a 4-H group in Dakota County for children ages 4 to 14 with disabilities.
During her sessions with Partners in Policymaking, Tidd met with her elected representatives with the county and state.
She said she feels that she is not only helping her family, but also other families.
“It is awesome if you want to help your child to have the best future,” Tidd said.
Tidd has valued the large amount of useful legal information but feels “the biggest benefit is meeting the self-advocates,” she said. “It is valuable to see what our children will be.”
Reid Scheller, of Rosemount, who also went through the program, believes the information he received was valuable.
As an individual living with autism, he tells people that while people might feel well educated, “you will soon realize how much more there is to learn.”
He rates the information as very valuable, especially his experience visiting his representative at the State Capitol and interacting with congressional staffers.
He learned the proper language to use when formally addressing those chairing a meeting and plans to apply this in the future.
Sessions are held monthly over eight months, starting in September. Application deadline is July 10.
The two-day sessions are held on Fridays and Saturdays, from September to May (with no session in December), except for a Sunday and Monday session in March when participants prepare and meet with legislators at the Capitol.
It is limited to 40 Minnesota residents, and the class members are selected by a panel of Partners graduates and representatives of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.
Costs for the Partners program are covered by a federal grant. Child care and respite allowances are given.
For further information or to receive an application form, visit http://mn.gov/mnddc/partnersinpolicymaking/class35/index.html or contact Brenton Rice at [email protected] or 651-242-6589. Mileage is reimbursed and meals are also provided.