October 11-12, 2019 Self-Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS) hosted their annual conference in Albany. The theme for the conference, “Stepping Up, Never Stepping Back” set the tone to encourage participants to speak up for themselves and others and keep the self-advocacy movement going forward.
Opengate was represented at this year’s conference by Wendy, Deborah, Kelly, Nicholas, Richard and Hilarie. They were accompanied by Direct Support Professionals, Nansi Tepsan and Keisha House for their overnight stay at the Albany Marriott where the conference was held.
Each year the conference agenda is filled with meetings, workshop sessions, and commissioner’s panel with the purpose of educating attendees about changes, how to be the best lobbyist, and knowledge based empowerment of the individual.
A few of the over 15 workshop sessions at this year’s conference included Care Coordination, Transportation Advocacy, Health and Wellbeing, Partners in Policymaking and Leadership Training. All of the workshop sessions prepare the participants to create better opportunities for themselves and others. The wide variety of topics provide individuals with opportunities for learning and networking, along with exchanging ideas to improve their situations.
Ample time for leisure activities was allocated after dinner with the movie Intelligent Lives, which addresses “a catalyst to transform the intellectual disability label from a life sentence of isolation to a life of possibility for the most systematically segregated people in America.” Afterwards, attendees enjoyed music and dancing at a Star Wars theme dance party.
Opengate is proud to send individuals who have expressed interest in becoming self-advocates to the conference each year, knowing they will return with inspiration, motivation, and new ideas for their futures. We will soon be re-launching our monthly group meetings which allow individuals to learn new advocacy skills, as well as participating in regional activities.
“We will rally together, energized with a message to carry back home with us.” -SANYS