By Jason Mize and Katie Kinder
From June 14 – June 16, we went to the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) Annual Conference in Baltimore. We both serve on the board of Missouri Protection and Advocacy (MO P&A), who covered our expenses. MO P&A is a federally mandated system in the state of Missouri which provides protection of the rights of persons with disabilities through legally-based advocacy. The NDRN is like a huge gathering of all the P&A’s from around the nation.
We feel strongly about equal rights for all people whether or not they have a disability. This was a great conference because it was all about ensuring the rights of people with disabilities are respected and protected. We are also members of People First of Boone County, a local self-advocacy group. We will use what we learned – things like talking to legislators and policy makers, organizing our efforts, talking to reporters, among other things. We want people with disabilities to be fully included in their communities – in school, in life, in work. It was clear that everyone else at the conference did, too.
Baltimore is a very historical place. We learned the Star Spangled Banner came from there, both the song and the flag. One part of Baltimore still has old cobblestone streets. We took walking tours and saw boats and ships anchored in the harbor. We went to a restaurant called “Bubba Gump” – a Forrest Gump themed place that was lots of fun. Jason visited the Hard Rock Café for the first time ever. Others from Missouri were at the conference with us, including Susan Pritchard-Green and others with MO P&A, and Renee Carter, from Boone County Family Resources.
We are thankful that MO P&A made this possible for us.