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MDRC cultivates disability pride and strengthens the disability movement by recognizing disability as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity while collaborating to dismantle all forms of oppression.

This past year, we witnessed the deeply problematic history of racial violence in this country result in murder of people of color. We witnessed religious intolerance lead to murders of people in their synagogue. We witnessed policy proposals that threaten the rights and safety of immigrants, especially immigrants with disabilities. We witnessed an endless number of hate-filled policy changes intended to isolate people seeking a better life. We witnessed efforts to cause harm to transgender and intersex individuals by limiting the ways in which people may identify themselves and how the government recognizes them.

It is painful to witness the suffering around us and within us. It is tempting to refuse to be a witness, but this does not lead to progress. We must use our experiences as fuel for the work we have committed to do in taking apart all forms of oppression.

We cannot develop or strengthen disability pride without also recognizing that we are constantly in community with people working to survive efforts to harm their lives. People with disabilities are: religious minorities, people of color, of various social and economic status, immigrants, refugees, activists, LGBTQ+, and so much more. Our community has the power to join in solidarity against hatred and intolerance that harms us all.

Actively working for disability justice takes courage. Courage to communicate against leaders and policies that deny identities, that abuse and destroy lives, that marginalize, that separate families, that promote hatred and acts of violence, that destroy programs that provide access to healthcare, housing, and basic human rights. Courage to disagree and intervene as an ally, when you look someone you love in the eyes and let them know you do not agree with them. Courage to hold tight to your values when you tell a donor or funder that you will not take their money if it means oppressing those we serve and those that work in our communities. Courage to look in the mirror and make a commitment to unlearn the actions you were taught that harm others. Courage to use our power to fight hate.

You share our values--that people with disabilities should be able to live full lives within the community with equal rights, equity and opportunities, be valued as essential and vital members of the community, be their whole selves, in all their identities, in all aspects of their lives, and have space for self-discovery, to cultivate community, and to develop pride.

Join us in using our power and courage! Please renew your financial support for Michigan Disability Rights Coalition so that your courage continues to be our courage as we work for justice. As a member and supporter of the disability justice community you know the difference between talk and action. You know that the work we do together is instrumental in building a movement that is strong enough to continue to effect change and withstand the onslaught of oppression in the current political environment.

As 2018 draws to a close and you consider the charitable contributions you want to make, please consider how much more you can do to help by sending a tax-deductible year-end gift to Michigan Disability Rights Coalition. We know you are already taking action through your advocacy, your hope, and your personal commitments. We are asking that you double down and amplify your support by financially investing in the work of Michigan Disability Rights Coalition.

Your gift is essential to continue our advocacy work, to cultivate disability pride, to strengthen the disability movement, and to collaborate to dismantle all forms of oppression. Help us pull together the power of this community so that the voices of ALL people with disabilities and our allies in other marginalized communities are heard and included. Let’s not shrink, let’s grow louder, and together hold strong and continue to work for justice. Keep the flame of hope and courage burning!

Sincerely,

Myrtle Gregg-LaFay, Board President
Theresa Metzmaker, Acting Director

3 young woman at table hold up craft projects

Ending Violence

People with intellectual disabilities are sexually assaulted at a rate seven times higher than those without disabilities. 

As part of the on-going work of MDRC on ending violence, staff again participated in Love is Respect Week. MDRC took to our social media accounts to raise awareness on teen dating violence and promote healthy relationships. MDRC provided statistics, facts, and resources for teens with disabilities that have experienced mental, verbal, and physical abuse. Providing this information helps everyone be able to possibly identify the signs that someone they know may need help. Participating in this week is important to raise awareness in the community and also provides great dialogue for all relationships.

Staff presented at the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence annual conference about sexuality and disability and disability pride.  MDRC’s presentation has been used for organizations working to end sexual assault  across the State of Michigan.

Her Power is now in its 9th year, this event for teen girls with disabilities is life changing. This year, 21 young women participated. The transition of the girls’ confidence and pride in their disabilities and themselves identifying as a person with a disability is the biggest highlight every year. The way the girls interact with each other by the time they leave is so amazing to see, they become a family.

group poses for photo

Intersectional Leadership

Funded by the Developmental Disabilities Council, the LEAD team worked with racially and ethnically diverse communities from different cities of the state, and provided a space where people shared their experiences and stories of uneasiness, marginality, inconsequentiality and the societal barriers they face navigating the system. This sharing created further acknowledgement of the connection between racism and ableism. Understanding this historical connection unites us as a community and leads to a connected effort to disable systems of oppression in our community.

A “disability only” agenda is a violent myth and all disability work must work to end racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia and all forms of oppression.

Funded by the Developmental Disabilities Council, Leadership Development Opportunities supported five adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities who took part in the yearlong Leadership Development Opportunities Fellowship Program. Through this program, the members developed and deepened their leadership skills and strengths.  Fellows used those skills to get involved in an issue of their choice. Several Fellows focused on inclusion of LGBTQIA people with disabilities, another Fellow pursued access to financial empowerment, and another focused on access to alternatives to group homes for community living. Two of the Fellows obtained employment opportunities that they credit in part to the program and the confidence they gained from their participation. Two of the Fellows presented at the national conference SABE (Self Advocates Becoming Empowered) in Birmingham, Alabama. The LDO Fellows also co-presented on Disability History, Culture, and Pride with MDRC staff members reaching hundreds of people around the state.

Paul at table with iPad

Michigan Assistive Technology Program (MATP)

Assistive Technology supports living, learning, working, and participating in all aspects of community life.

The Michigan Assistive Technology Program (MATP) at MDRC provides a variety of services including training, device demonstrations, short-term loans, supports the Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund and administers the ATXchange.org. ATXchange.org is an online market place for individuals to buy and sell used Assistive Technology devices.

Paul purchased a used iPad off of the ATXchange to use for classes this fall semester at Oakland County Community College. He shared that because of his disability, he has difficulty with typing and handwriting, but knew there were apps he could download onto the iPad and use to take notes for classes. Paul also shared that he couldn’t afford to buy a new iPad and was thankful to buy a more affordable used one from the ATXchange.org. 

Healthcare Advocacy

Access to healthcare is a basic human right. We support people who are accessing services to impact the systems that serve them.

MDRC staff participate with Protect MI Care, a coalition of advocated and lobbyists, including the Michigan League for Public Policy, to protect Healthy Michigan participants from onerous work requirements.  As a result of the group’s efforts, the list of allowable exclusions has been greatly expanded.  The coalition continues to meet and work on issues of health policy, particularly for people on the expanded (Healthy Michigan Plan) Medicaid and regular Medicaid.

MDRC staff supported health care and community inclusion for participants in Michigan’s Dual Eligibility Demonstration through direct information events and training of Care Coordinators. The large-scale information and advocacy events helped participants directly to make informed decisions about enrollment, supports problems, and gain immediate access to medical plan, behavioral health, and advocacy organizations. The trainings for Care Coordinators from the medical plans organizing supports for the demonstration project focused on the use and importance of Person-Centered Planning (PCP) careful and passionate exploration of the values that drive empowering and effective PCP and self-determination, and the use of PCP techniques that preserve and enhance the personal choice and freedom of the participants.

With our partners, MDRC reached hundreds of individuals who have both Medicare and Medicaid in the pilot area of the MI Health Link program. MDRC and partners were able to educate folks on what is MI Health Link, the benefits, how to access benefits, and how to address problems or grievances. MDRC also successfully recruited, formed, trained, and supported three advisory committees in an ongoing manner to create an informed and effective feedback loop from members to the health plans, integrated care organizations, and state level policy makers. Additionally, data was gathered from licensed facilities, providers, and stakeholders throughout the state regarding how the program is being implemented, beneficiaries’ experience, facility and provider experience, as well as successes and challenges.

Providing administrative support to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, MDRC staff have registered and supported more than 700 peers with mental health disabilities for peer support trainings and advanced education sessions.

Building Disability Pride

Accepting and honoring our uniqueness and seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity.

MDRC hosted a half-day symposium on Disability and Mental Health Awareness in partnership with Islamic Center of East Lansing and nine other partnering organizations who provide disability and clinical services around the State of Michigan. More than 120 people from historically marginalized communities in addition to service professionals, faith leaders, cultural brokers, counselors, therapists, and students attended.

The Disability and Mental Health Awareness presentation was a needed initiative to promote service utilization, support, advocacy, and culturally informed interventions that address disability, mental health, stigma and help-seeking within Arab-American, Somali, South-Asian and refugee population. This presentation was also vital for relationship building with historically marginalized communities with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds as well as partnership with organizations that provide services within these communities.

Participants in the conference requested to making it an annual conference on disability and mental health, recognizing that the community is open to building further awareness regarding disability and mental health.

Funded by the Developmental Disabilities Council, Youth Engaged in Learning and Leading (YELL) is working with youth with and without developmental disabilities, teachers and paraprofessionals in four school districts. As a result of the YELL program, school districts have already begun to make social change by changing their peer-to-peer programs to focus on equality and allyship among all students, and by dedicating class periods for this content. 

Prior to implementing the YELL program, teachers relayed that many students did not want to identify as having disabilities.  As staff began to deliver content about the disability community and disability history, several students have disclosed their disabilities when reflecting upon how they feel about the content presented. 

MDRC provided training to various organizations in the community both disability and nondisability organizations. All presentations included the celebrating of the disability community’s heritage, culture, unique experiences and contributions.

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Michigan Disability Rights Coalition
3498 East Lake Lansing Road, Suite 100
East Lansing, MI 48823

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