Iowa Advocacy Connection - 2014 Issue 1

Issue 1, 3/18/2014

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ID Action Advocacy Conference - October 1-3

ID Action is excited to announce that the first annual ID Action Advocacy Conference will be held October 1-3, 2014 at the Coralville Marriott in Coralville, IA. Mark your calendars!

The ID Action Advocacy conference is designed for Iowans who want to be involved in advocacy at any level. If you are just starting out, thinking about getting involved or if you are a longtime advocate, this conference will help you build and develop your advocacy skills. As a conference attendee you will have the opportunity to hear from speakers on a wide range of topics to build your personal advocacy toolkit.

Do you have a topic that you would be interested in learning more about?  Are you interested in presenting? If so, please email ID Action at or call us at 866-432-2846. We will provide you with more information on the criteria for presentations and the application.

Continue to watch the ID Action website, the Iowa Advocacy Connection and your mailbox for more information about the 2014 ID Action Advocacy Conference. Registration will open in June and space will be limited. If you have questions, please let us know.


Save the Date – October 1-3, 2014.

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Personal Story of Emmanuel Smith

E. SmithEmmanuel Smith always knew he wanted to be involved in advocacy. He said, “at a young age, my parents instilled in me the idea that we are all stewards of each other.” This idea has been his driving force as he has worked to equip himself with the information and skills to become not only a self-advocate but an advocate for others with disabilities. Emmanuel was born in the Quad Cities and moved with his family to Des Moines where he grew up and continues to live today. He feels a strong connection to his community and he hopes to continue to give back as an advocate. 

There have been many people that have had an influence on Emmanuel.  He has great respect for the advocates that came before him; those that worked hard to pass the American with Disabilities Act and fought to make schools accessible. He said, “in many ways I’m standing on their shoulders, that anything I do is only possible because of the work they did.” When applying to Drake, Emmanuel chose to write about a milestone that had a major impact on him, the 10th Anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. An event was held at the Iowa State Capitol and Senator Harkin spoke about the history of the bill and how it was passed. Emmanuel said this event was influential because it was the first “real feeling of disability as a collective experience that we all share.” He said for the first time that regardless of the type of disability, he understood that people face similar challenges.

Emmanuel believes that self-advocacy starts with understanding, accepting and seeing yourself “as somebody worthy of respect, and worthy of being treated with dignity…and all of these rights that we’re all afforded just by being people.” His said his biggest accomplishment has been coming to this understanding and it is what has enabled him to become an effective self-advocate.

His advice to others that want to get involved in advocacy is to find someone that’s doing what you want to do and ask questions – how they get where they are, what steps did they take or what influences them – learn from those that have come before you. He has his sights set on the future and finding the next person he wants to ask those questions to. Emmanuel is currently working as a PABSS Advocate at Disability Rights Iowa and he is looking forward to working with people in Iowa who have a disability or are having problems and difficulties and work to face those challenges together. Should you need assistance in dealing with the many barriers to employment that often face people with disabilities, feel free to contact Emmanuel at Click here to watch Emmanuel's video.


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March Awareness Month

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness month. This year, we are focusing on community involvement and inclusion. Communities throughout Iowa are benefiting from the valuable contributions of Iowans with disabilities. Throughout the month of March we will share with you the stories of Iowans and how involvement in their community has enriched their life and their community.  To view the videos, check out

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12 Steps to Success

In each issue, we continue to share with you steps to become a good self-advocate. Steps 7 & 8 focus on developing strong communication skills and determining the best method to share your concerns with your legislators. To view all 12 Steps to Successful Advocacy, please visit

Step 7: Communicate.

  • •Attend city council and county supervisor meetings and legislative public forums.
  • •Make telephone calls, or write letters or emails.
  • •Set up meetings.
  • •Invite elected officials to a community event, or attend their fundraisers.


Step 8: What to Write/Say.

  • •State the problem.
  • •State the solution.
  • •Put the issue into context with a personal story.
  • •Ask for help.
  • •Say thank you!
  • •Follow up.

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Youth Leadership Forum

Youth Leadership Forum is a five day leadership training program for 10th, 11th, and 12th grade high school students with disabilities. The next session will be July 13th-18th, 2014 and is held every year at Iowa State University. Students stay overnight in the dorms and participate in large group and small group activities, listen to speakers, take a trip to the state Capitol, and much more. Throughout the week, students will have the opportunity to learn about developing self-esteem, choosing a career, assistive technology, and will develop a personal leadership plan amongst other things. They will also have a chance to connect with professionals and community leaders with disabilities as possible mentors and role models. There is no charge for those selected to attend. Applications are currently being accepted and can be found online at:

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Voter Training

The Make Your Mark! Voter Training is designed to educate and inform attendees of their rights and responsibilities as voters. We will cover the most common barriers that we know prevent Iowans from voting and focus on ways to overcome them. The training also provides participants the opportunity to become comfortable with using the AutoMark voting machine and other election equipment. Attendees will be able to register to vote and request absentee ballots.


If you are interested in holding training in your community, please contact ID Action at or 866-432-2846. You can also fill out the request form at

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Local Capitol Days Highlights

Advocacy GroupID Action spent the day at the Capitol with an advocacy group from the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area. They traveled to Des Moines to meet with their legislators to talk about the importance of peer services being included as a core component of the Mental Health and Disability Services Redesign.

If you have a group interested in visiting the Capitol, contact ID Action at 866-432-2846.

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Annual Report

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