#HandsOff is a series on The Arc Blog. Each month, we feature a story from individuals and families across The Arc’s network about how some of today’s key policy issues impact their day to day lives.

By: Peter Contos

Peter ContosAs my Paul Marchand Policy Internship at The Arc’s national office in Washington, DC comes to a close, I want to reflect on the importance of advocacy.

Advocacy has always been an important part of my life. My brother and I were raised to try and understand life from various perspectives, and through this I gained an appreciation for people coming from all walks of life. My mother is a speech language pathologist, and many of her students have disabilities. It was through connecting with her students, along with supporting a family member with autism, where I found my calling in disability advocacy.

I was incredibly lucky to attend public schools that were relatively inclusive. My high school offers a class which pairs students from the general and special education curriculums, in subjects like cooking and art. I was fortunate enough to be in the class my senior year, and the relationships that blossomed throughout were very important to me. That class represents one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable moments of my academic career.

Throughout high school, I was also a part of the Miracle League, a baseball league accessible to kids and young adults with a range of disabilities. The enthusiasm and joy that the game brought to players, volunteers, parents, and fans was undeniable, and it was in those moments where I knew advocacy was the right path for me.

Through volunteering with The Arc of Northwest Wayne County (MI) for the past six years, I have attended the Disability Policy Seminar (DPS). DPS is an incredible opportunity for self-advocates and allies to come together to learn more about important policy issues, and the advocacy we can use to support key programs. This year’s DPS featured a few sessions that really empowered me to continue my advocacy work. In the opening general session, we heard from Rebecca Cokley from the Center for America Progress, and Mike Oxford from ADAPT, both of whom have extensive experience as advocates. The personal stories they told were incredibly powerful, and through them, I learned about the tools they use to communicate their priorities. I also attended the Update on Employment Policy session, where we heard from a representative from the Department of Labor and a key Senate staff member, Michael Gamel-McCormick, about the work they are doing to make sure there are enough incentives and training available for employers to hire people with disabilities.

My favorite part of DPS every year is the Hill visits. This year, I was able to meet with three Congressional offices. Using a combination of statistics and personal stories, the group that I attended with effectively advocated for a variety of programs, including Money Follows the Person, but also to protect vital programs like Medicaid and Social Security, along with continuing to promote equity in educational opportunity.

I’ve continued my advocacy through action post-DPS by attending a rally on Capitol Hill opposing cuts and restructuring of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps). This rally was well attended by disability advocates and coalition organizations, and it was an opportunity to listen to stories about the importance of SNAP — including several by Members of Congress sharing their personal experiences with the program.

I will be graduating from college in June, and I look forward to continuing my advocacy fight wherever I end up. I plan to use the knowledge and tools that I’ve gained since moving to DC to mobilize the communities I am a part of in my future.

13 thoughts on “May 2018 #HandsOff Blog – A Policy & Advocacy Internship with The Arc

  1. I am the proprietor of JustCBD Store label (justcbdstore.com) and am trying to develop my wholesale side of company. It would be great if someone at targetdomain share some guidance ! I thought that the very best way to do this would be to talk to vape stores and cbd stores. I was hoping if anybody could suggest a qualified web site where I can get UK Vape Shop Database I am already looking at creativebeartech.com, theeliquidboutique.co.uk and wowitloveithaveit.com. Not sure which one would be the most suitable option and would appreciate any advice on this. Or would it be easier for me to scrape my own leads? Ideas?

  2. I was extremely pleased to find this page. I wanted to thank you for ones time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it and i also have you bookmarked to see new information in your web site.

  3. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who was doing a little homework on this. And he actually bought me breakfast due to the fact that I discovered it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this matter here on your internet site.

  4. Right here is the perfect site for anyone who hopes to find out about this topic. You know a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually would want to…HaHa). You certainly put a fresh spin on a subject which has been discussed for a long time. Excellent stuff, just excellent!

  5. The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn’t fail me just as much as this particular one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read, but I truly believed you would have something useful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something that you could fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.

  6. After looking into a few of the articles on your blog, I seriously appreciate your way of writing
    a blog. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future.
    Please visit my web site as well and let me know your opinion.

  7. Hi, I do think this is a great website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to come back once again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.