Flat Self-Advocates/Avatars Travel to the State Capitol for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
I want to introduce you to my brother, Flat David. David, also known as “Cowboy Dave,” is 58 years old and is intellectually disabled. He resides in a care facility in Henryetta, Oklahoma. David’s flat likeness will be traveling to his state legislator in March. Accompanying his flat self will be a letter discussing the issues that impact his life as a person with intellectual disabilities.
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and The Arc of Oklahoma is creating Flat Self-Advocates/Avatars to bring a focus to the issues that impact individuals with disabilities. The purpose of declaring March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month is to raise awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all areas of community life. There are barriers people with disabilities still sometimes face in connecting to the communities where they live. Working together, we can create an inclusive, strong, diverse community comprised of people with all abilities.
There are more than 60,000 Oklahomans with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the state of Oklahoma. Each and every one of those voices deserves to be represented! The Arc of Oklahoma is inviting people with developmental or intellectual disabilities to join the Self- Advocate campaign.
During March, self-advocates usually travel to the state capitol in Oklahoma City to make their issues known to the state legislators. Because of COVID-19, that is not possible this year. We will still present a strong voice, but it will be in a pandemic-safe manner. Through Flat Self-Advocates or Bitmoji cartoon avatars, we will communicate the concerns facing those with intellectual and developmental disabilities by sending personalized Flat Self-Advocates or avatars to all of the state lawmakers. Legislators will be encouraged to take photos with their Flat Self-Advocates/Avatars throughout the month and post them on social media with the hashtags #FlatSelfAdvocates, #IDDAvatar, and #DDAwareness. The Arc of Oklahoma will also share the images on their social media channels.
What are the issues that impact your life? If you could meet with a legislator, what would you tell them? Are you upset that the waiting list for waivers in Oklahoma is over a decade long? Would you like better accessibility and adult changing tables in public buildings? Does the pending privatization of Medicaid cause you concern? Maybe your main problems are housing or transportation? The issues that are important to you can be communicated through the Flat Self-Advocate/Avatar.
This is the easy part! Click here to fill out the simple form The Arc of Oklahoma has provided. Have a picture or avatar ready to upload so a Flat Self-Advocate or Avatar can be created. There will be some questions about what issues concern you, and from your answers, a letter will be written to your state legislator. The Arc of Oklahoma will make your Flat Self-Advocate or Avatar, write the letter, and make sure it’s distributed to the State Capitol.
Although Developmental Disability Awareness Month does not begin until March, the deadline for filling out the form and sending the picture is February 15th. You can do it today also!
All of our voices need to be heard by the people who make our laws. Our State Legislators are elected to represent all the people in their district. To do that job effectively, the legislators depend on hearing from their constituents. Join my brother, Flat David, in the effort to make Oklahoma a great place for everyone to live! With the help of Flat Self-Advocate/Avatar and The Arc of Oklahoma, we can make a difference in our state!