Iowa Advocacy Connection - 2017 Issue 1

Issue 13, 3/14/2017

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Articles in This Issue:

March is DD Awareness Month - Life Side by Side

In March, we celebrate and raise awareness of the many contributions those with developmental disabilities make in communities throughout Iowa. There are more than 350,000 Iowans who have a disability, of those, more than 48,000 have a developmental disability.

In the past, people with developmental disabilities were often isolated from participation in community life. While there is still much work to be done to ensure communities in Iowa are inclusive, progress is being made and Iowans with and without disabilities are coming together to form strong, diverse communities.

This year, we share the story of the Village Northwest Advisory Council for Sheldon, IA. The advisory council is a group of individuals who want to give a voice to those in their community. They share their opinion on changes happening with services and what these changes mean to them. They get to be part of the process so their voice is heard.

All of the advisory committee members will attend Advocating for Change Day this year. Committee member Ben Bush said, “It is good for legislators and the state to see that we are all coming together, because we do believe that we can make a change.” Committee member Corrin Sorensen is attending Advocating for Change Day because it is important to share her story, especially for those who can’t share theirs. She said, “If we get our story out, maybe we can help them.”

The group is excited to make the trip to Des Moines to talk with their legislators and be a part of the process. To hear directly from the advisory group, click here.

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Advocating for Change Day - Join us and learn how you can make a difference!

Individuals attending ACD 2015 talking to a legislator

The Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, ID Action and Polk County Health Services invite you to join us for Advocating for Change Day on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. Advocating for Change Day is specifically for Iowans affected by disability to become skilled at communicating with their legislators and other elected state officials.

At a special training session, you can learn how to effectively develop and deliver your message to legislators and elected officials. You will also learn more about the legislative process and the best ways to contact your legislators while you are at the Capitol and after you head back home.

Once the training session has finished, you will go to the Capitol to meet with your legislators and other elected officials and attend an afternoon rally. Throughout the day you will see the legislative process in action by attending committee meetings or watching a debate from the galleries (when the Senate and/or House are in session). If you plan to attend Advocating for Change Day, we encourage you to let your legislators know and set a specific time to meet them after your training session is complete.

Image of Advocacy Toolkit

If you need to look up your legislators, visit the infoNET website and click on “Take Action.” You will be taken to the Grassroots Action Center where you can look up who your legislators are. You can even email them directly from this page.

Register for Advocating for Change Day by clicking here. Please register by March 22 to guarantee your free lunch. Advocating for Change Day is free to attend. This is your opportunity to talk with your legislators about issues important to you!

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2017 Make Your Mark! Conference

Mark your calendars now to save the date for the 2017 Make Your Mark! Conference. We are excited to announce that this year’s conference will be held September 20-22, 2017, at Honey Creek Resort.

The Make Your Mark! Conference is a self-advocacy conference that helps Iowans with disabilities to learn and grow as advocates. Who should attend? Iowans with disabilities who want to make a difference in their community or state.

Registration will open on June 1, 2017

Continue to check for more information about conference sessions, speakers and activities. After the conference sessions, you can take advantage of the recreational opportunities offered by Honey Creek Resort State Park at no additional fee.

  • Go for a hike on the Savannah Ridge Interpretive Trail
  • Rent a bike from the front desk (weather permitting)
  • Go swimming at Buccaneer Bay Waterpark
  • Check out a Field Pack to learn a new skill. Packs are available in a variety of topics on a first-come-first-served basis and include all the materials you need to get started. Topics include geocaching, tracking, invertebrate investigation and birding.

Learn more about on this year’s conference location by visiting

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Advocacy Resource

infoNET Bill Tracker
The infoNET bill tracker helps you watch some of the bills Iowa legislators are considering this year. We do not track all bills introduced, just those that might impact the lives of Iowans with disabilities, their families, their communities and their service providers. You can see all bills introduced this year on the Legislature's website.

Public Forums
The State Capitol isn't the only place where crowds are growing. Legislators are reporting record turnout at their local legislative forums, held on Fridays and Saturdays in their districts.

Last year we tracked more than 500 of these events in our calendar. You can see the next three weeks of public forums here.

Advocacy Toolkit
The ID Action Advocacy Toolkit provides helpful information to get you ready to talk with your legislators. Whether that is at the Capitol or in your community, make sure you are prepared. Use the helpful hints and tips in the toolkit so you can make the most of the time you have with your legislators. Download a copy of the toolkit by clicking here.

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Share Your Story with Us

ID Action loves to hear from you! We want to fill our Facebook page and website with stories about you and other Iowans who are making a difference in communities throughout the state. If you are active in your community with an advocacy group, a community organization or volunteer opportunity, we want to hear from you. Your stories inspire other Iowans who want to get more involved but just aren’t sure how to get started. Send your story via email to us at or you can send it in the mail to P.O. Box 737, Des Moines, IA 50303.

Check out the stories of Iowans we have captured so far at

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Volunteering is a great way to become active in your community, but sometimes getting started can be scary. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

  1. Choose something you are passionate about. For example, if you are an animal lover you might want to contact your local shelter to find out if they have any volunteer opportunities. If they don’t, be sure to ask if they have suggestions on other places you could try.
  2. Make sure the volunteer opportunity is a good match for you. You don’t want to be stuck doing a job you won’t enjoy. Ask questions about what your responsibilities will be before you say yes.
  3. Be a great volunteer. Make sure you hold up your end and honor the commitment you made to the organization.

If you have questions about volunteering, call us at (866-432-2846). We would be happy to help.

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