On March 1, A TEAM Wisconsin members from around the state joined together for their fourth annual Day for Choice advocacy event. A TEAM Wisconsin’s 10 state chapters are part of a national grassroots movement to ensure option and opportunities continue to advance for individuals with diverse abilities. In past years, the team has been successful in meeting with over 75 legislators and having over 100 attendants. Again this year, representatives from all parts of the state participated in this important day for advocacy.
The event was in partnership with Rehabilitation for Wisconsin in Action, the state association representing community rehabilitation programs that specialize in training and employment services for a diverse workforce. A TEAM members spent the day meeting with legislators to promote the importance of independence and work choice. The highlight of the day was a personal visit from Governor Walker who shared the group’s enthusiasm for work and its importance in providing dignity and purpose, as well as, his support for a full array of employment options here in the state.
Members were eager to meet with the governor and thank him for his policies that positively impact individuals with diverse abilities such as Wisconsin’s Better Bottom Line initiative. The initiative expands training and business incentives to hire people with diverse abilities in the community.
A TEAM member, John Tschohl, presented the governor with an A TEAM ‘My Work. My Choice’ shirt and expressed the importance of community rehabilitation programs as an essential part of Wisconsin’s work options for some people with disabilities to succeed, “The primary goal of any rehabilitation facility is, and should always be, to help as many individuals as possible on gaining jobs in the community. However, a large dose of realism is required here. Not every individual with a disability, no matter what limitation it is – physical or mental, will be successful in the same way. You just cannot put all of us, no matter how convenient and easy it would be, in a large shaker, shake us up and expect us to be all alike. It simply can’t be achieved.”
Advocates from the A TEAM Southeastern Wisconsin chapter, which includes members from Jefferson County, Walworth County, Dane County and Waukesha County, met with both representatives and senators from their districts, including Representatives Jorgensen, Kleefisch, Horlacher, Jagler, Neylon, Sargent, Taylor and Senators Fitzgerald, Nass, Kapenga, Lazich, Miller, and Risser. Each legislator welcomed the members and listened attentively to their powerful testimonies and discussion on the future of service choices here in Wisconsin.
Representative Kleefisch stated, “It certainly was an exciting day at the Capitol with A TEAM Wisconsin. It was an honor to visit with each of the members, to hear their stories and to listen to the issues most important to them. I am, and always have been, a strong advocate for community based employment programs and I applaud the advocates that made the trip to the capitol to show their support for these important, life changing services. I was encouraged by the Governor’s speech, in which he too indicated his strong support for community employment programs, and reiterated his commitment to his Better Bottom Line initiative.”
Representative Sargent noted, “Each legislative session I look forward to the A TEAM Wisconsin visit to my office. Their mission of promoting a full array of employment choices for people with disabilities is refreshing and positive. I believe that everyone should have access to employment opportunities - it strengthens and builds our community.”
A TEAM member, Ginny Weigand, commented on the day’s event, “We met with the Governor and he listened to everyone as individuals. We also had great meetings with our legislators. Everyone in our group shared their concerns and stories. It was wonderful.”
For more information, visit www.ateamwisconsin.org.
John T. presenting the Governor with A TEAM shirt.
A TEAM Wisconsin with Governor Walker
Representative Joel Kleefisch
Representative Andy Jorgensen
Senator Chris Kapenga