2023 Graduates of ACT's Course 101: Self-Advocacy Basics

2023 Graduates of ACT’s Course 101: Self-Advocacy Basics

“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Thirteen seniors and two staff from the WACOSA Senior Program took Disability Equality Training classes through the Advocating Change Together (ACT) Center for Disability Leadership in the summer and early fall of 2023. The classes ran for 12 weeks, meeting once weekly at the WACOSA Seniors program site located at the Whitney Senior Center. Bev and her assistant DJ lead the group through the courses which have three focus areas: building personal power, connecting to disability rights, and building better communities.

On Tuesday, October 17th, 2023, the courses ended with a graduation ceremony at the WACOSA Senior Program. Before the actual graduation ceremony, the class reviewed the fundamentals of what they learned. Each graduate received a badge honoring their leadership trait as well as a Certificate of Achievement for graduating from the course. After the ceremony, everyone enjoyed networking and refreshments.

When asked about their experiences in this class, Tom Flemming was moved by learning more about Ed Roberts, who was a pioneer in the disability rights movement. Tom shares, “If it wasn’t for him, we might not have the rights we do have today. He helped make sure there are curb cuts so we can move around.”  Patti Benner got to be a judge during the ceremony, so we all decided we’d call her Judge Patti moving forward, and Bernice Roerring thoughtfully added, “When I speak for myself I feel terrific!”

A big thank you to ACT, Bev, and DJ for being amazing leaders of the class, to WACOSA staff for helping to facilitate the classes, and to our donors for their ongoing support of WACOSA to make opportunities like this available to the people we serve. Congratulations Graduates!

Graduates and their chosen leadership trait:

  • Connie Orren – Asks for help when needed
  • Bernice Roerring – Likes people and makes friends Easily
  • Jill Petersen – Helps other people lead
  • Kurt Schwartz – Good listener
  • Patti Benner – Inspires People
  • Richard Huisenga – Shares in the work with others
  • Ron Peterson – Asks Questions
  • Sue Petersen – Real, not phony
  • Tom Fleming – Role Model
  • Tom Nelson – Honest
  • Wanda Bovy – Can say NO
  • Russ Erbelding – Inspires Others
  • Toni Rudolph – Asks Question
  • Diamond Moore – Awesome staff
  • Brenda Frieler- Awesome staff