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Austin resident completes leadership training

Austin resident Judy Fluor is a recent graduate from Partners in Policymaking, an eight-month, comprehensive training program that teaches disability law and policies, and advocacy skills.

Fluor and her husband are raising a son and daughter who both are challenged with separate disability symptoms that require careful coordination with school evaluators to get the right diagnosis and supports.

Fluor was  moved by the stories about how parents or individuals advocated for themselves or their child. She has become more observant of individuals with disabilities being employed in the community and now examines her son’s IEP and realizes that it is inadequate.  She has learned to reach out to other parents who are struggling and although she does not know all the answers and plans to volunteer to the local Autism program.

The Fluor Family, from left, Judy, Christopher, Lauren and James attended the graduation ceremony for Partners in Policymaking. Photo provided

“Our goal is that graduates gain a clear understanding of disability law and policies. The training increases their self-confidence in advocating for their needs,” said Dr. Colleen Wieck, executive director of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. “As they have learned to speak up for people with disabilities, many have become leaders in their own communities.” The Minnesota-inspired program is also offered in most states and several foreign countries.

Costs for the Partners program are covered by a federal grant. Childcare and respite allowances are given, and overnight accommodations are provided for those who travel from outside the metro area to attend. Mileage is reimbursed and meals are provided.

Limited to 40 Minnesotans, participants are selected by a panel of Partners graduates and representatives of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. The first session for the 2019 to 2020 program year is September 13 to 14.  Applications are due by July 8. The training is free to participants.

“This program is based on the belief that systems change is best brought about through the efforts of those most affected by them, and we seek to arm these individuals with the tools needed to be successful in the public policy arena,” Wieck said.

Those selected to participate in the program must attend all sessions and complete homework assignments.  For further information, or to get an application form, go to http://mn.gov/mnddc/partnersinpolicymaking/class37/application.html or contact Brenton Rice at brenton@togevents.com, or 651-242-6589.