By: Scott Burlingame, Executive Director
One of our ongoing challenges at Independence, Inc. is trying to assist more people with disabilities to become actively engaged in our communities. We have long believed the best way to protect past civil rights gains for people with disabilities, and to make our communities more accessible and integrated is to have more people with disabilities in community leadership roles.
However, far too often, qualified people with disabilities have told us they feel they lack the training, confidence, and experience to step up and accept community leadership roles. Therefore, we are proud to announce some new programing that will help to change this unfortunate reality.
First off, thanks to funding from the North Dakota State Council on Developmental Disabilities, we will soon be holding the first ever Community Leadership Academy (CLA) in North Dakota. The CLA will increase the number people with disabilities contributing to their communities by taking active leadership roles through service on local nonprofit boards, government committees, and councils.
The CLA is a six week training that prepares participants to serve effectively in those roles and helps connect the interests and expertise of participants with appropriate service opportunities. The CLA imparts necessary leadership skills through a combination of lecture, guided discussion, guest speakers, hands-on exercises, and networking events. Graduates will not only be able to bring the disability perspective into decisions on general public welfare, but will contribute their own unique talents and expertise to the communities in which they serve.
All individuals who participate in the academy will have the tools and resources necessary to effectively participate in a leadership role. The course teaches skills such as professional dress, ethical and legal responsibilities, Robert’s Rules of Order and much more. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to receive peer mentoring from other people with disabilities in leadership roles. This opportunity will allow for participants to gain additional perspective and support as they begin to apply the skills they learn as part of the project.
In addition, thanks to funding from St.Joseph’s Community Health Foundation,
Independence, Inc. will be able to assist people with disabilities to become more actively engaged within their communities by joining local service clubs. We will assist in covering the costs of club membership and other related fees.