Building Community Capacity Through Collaboration
There is a continued need for the development of training programs and resources to assist Texans with developmental disabilities (DD) and their families to learn leadership and advocacy skills. To do this, leadership development and advocacy skills training programs must exist in many different areas around the state. Because it is unlikely that any one organization can provide enough funding to meet the demand, it is imperative that organizations that offer this kind of training work with others. This type of collaboration can help to increase the number of identified leadership development and advocacy training programs that are able to provide culturally appropriate training for individuals with DD.
Hold a two-day leadership and advocacy train-the-trainer conference for National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Texas council members and others. Training will improve individuals’ leadership skills so they can teach others and encourage advocacy on behalf of people with DD in local communities across Texas. Conference attendees will advocate in their own communities, develop regional councils to continue the project long-term, and offer local advocacy and leadership training to other individuals with disabilities, family members, friends and representatives from organizations that serve individuals with DD.
The project planned a leadership and advocacy skills conference which was held concurrently with the NAMI Texas State Conference. In order to get the best representation across the state, an application was developed and disseminated to different groups and identified leaders. The first day of the conference was focused solely on advocacy skills training, including how to tell a clear and concise story, effective modes of communication, and how to conduct a meeting with a policy maker. The second day focused on the processes of becoming an effective leader and how to create an impact “for the masses.”
Advocacy trainings were also held in Amarillo, Arlington, Austin, Conroe, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Lubbock, Plano and San Antonio to train individuals with a focus on systemic change. The Advocacy Coordinator held discussions with consumers and family members to encourage groups to continue to advocate after the trainings. Consumer leaders helped plan Capitol Day, a biannual event to bring awareness of mental health issues to policymakers. The event began with an advocacy overview and a rally, after which each attendee was encouraged to meet their policymaker of their respective district.
A consumer council was formed, consisting of eight statewide representatives. A second two-day conference was also held, with similar selection criteria and first-day program as the initial conference. The second day of the conference was adjusted from the previous year to include presentation skills. The second day also included how to set-up advocacy meetings and logistics of how to be effective.
- Over 277 individuals participated in local advocacy trainings
- Two conferences were held to train advocacy skills leaders
- 300 people attended the Capitol Day rally
- Consumers and family members are better equipped to self-advocate
- Consumer leaders statewide are now better able to train others to self-advocate