Individuals with disabilities, their family members, and other advocates headed to Madison this past month for their annual Day at the Capitol event. A TEAM Wisconsin and its 7 chapters including, Southeastern Wisconsin, South Central Wisconsin, Central Wisconsin, Chippewa Valley, Crawford County, Washington County and Chilton, organize the day, along with Rehabilitation for Wisconsin in Action and its community rehabilitation program partners. Opportunities, Inc. is proud to be home of the original A TEAM of Southeastern Wisconsin and supports this effort through its advocacy and outreach initiatives. In addition, St. Coletta of Wisconsin has become an active member of the A TEAM of Southeastern Wisconsin and had participants attend the Day at the Capitol event. It is an exciting collaboration for the both of them.
The A TEAM model was established in 2011 to unite persons with disabilities and their family members to advocate in a grassroots effort, create awareness in the community and advise those who care for our citizens with special needs to ensure service choices are protected and sustained. It has been accepted state-wide and now 7 chapters exist with more than 300 members. Most recently, the model has been recognized nationally from Source America, a federal program that promotes employment for people with disabilities across the country.
Over 75 A TEAM members joined together to advocate with their representatives regarding the protection of all employment choices for people with disabilities. It was also a time to show support for Wisconsin’s Better Bottom Line Initiative, which expands training and business incentives to hire people with disabilities in the community. Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch gave a welcome presentation to all attendees before they headed off to individual meetings with legislators. She expressed her support for the A TEAM’s mission and listened to the testimonies of members who were concerned about losing the opportunity to work in training centers. Jennifer Weigand, A TEAM member of Southeastern Wisconsin shared, “It should not be up to the senators and representatives to decide where people with disabilities should work. Not everyone wants to work in the community. Some people like to work at training centers and they should have that choice.” The Lieutenant Governor gave the members a round of applause for their advocacy efforts, as well.
Over 30 legislators were met with by team members, both republican and democrat. “Protecting services for people with disabilities is definitely a bi-partisan effort and support is always there from our elected officials,” said Robin Kennedy of Opportunities, Inc., who is an organizer of the annual event for the past three years. “We are impressed and grateful for the responses we receive from all political backgrounds. This is the first time many people with disabilities have ever traveled to the capitol and they are nervous for what the day may bring. However, I am constantly overwhelmed by the wonderful reception by all the legislators we meet with and their attentiveness to the team.”
|Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch welcoming the A TEAM group to the capitol.||
| A TEAM members Coyle C., Linda B., and Carol L. with Representative Gary Hebl.
A TEAM members Charles G., Joann T., Jay J., Kari F. with Senator Paul Farrow.