Apply now for disability leadership training program

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STATEWIDE — Partners in Policymaking is now taking applications for a free leadership training program from parents of young children with developmental disabilities and adults with disabilities who are Minnesota residents. Starting in September and ending in May, eight sessions are presented over a period of nine months.

“We aim for self-confidence and understanding of disability law and policies. This will help individuals be more effective in advocating for their needs,” said Dr. Colleen Wieck, executive director of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. “As they gain experience in speaking up for people with disabilities, many have become leaders in their own communities.”

This carefully planned leadership training brings in national and state experts and uses group participation to emphasize learning. Over the 35-year history, more than 1,100 Minnesotans have become leaders in their own communities, and many have described it as “life changing.” Participants become effective advocates for themselves, their children, and others with disabilities.

Training includes the history of disability and advocacy movements, inclusive education, supported living, and customized employment. Individuals consider how to influence county, state and federal legislative processes. The monthly twoday sessions are held on Fridays and Saturdays, from September to May (with no session in December). The March session is on a Sunday and Monday when participants prepare for and meet with their state legislators at the Capitol.

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. Sessions are held at the Crowne Plaza Aire, at 3 Appletree Square in Bloomington, near Mall of America and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Limited to 35 Minnesotans, participants are selected by a panel of Partners graduates and representatives of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. The first weekend session for the 2021 to 2022 program year is September 17 – 18, 2021. Local experts and nationally recognized leaders in school inclusion, community organizing, governmental processes, and disability issues are among the presenters.

“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,” said Wieck.

Those selected to participate in the program must attend all sessions and complete homework assignments. For further information, or to get an application form, apply online at or contact Brenton Rice at, or 651-242-6589.

The Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities introduced the Partners in Policymaking program in 1987, and, through expansion to other states and countries, has trained more than 27,000 people worldwide.

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