Happy Friday, have a nice weekend. We may get some much needed moisture!

Prairie Independent Living Resource Center does various training activities throughout the year. Some training is given at one of our offices, but other trainings are on location. I was fortunate enough to assist with a few of these trainings at the end of last month. Since I am still fairly new to PILR, I learned a lot myself. The beginning of last week we had the pleasure of hosting Youth Advocacy Training for students with disabilities at Nickerson High School. There were 14 student participants and 2 teachers. This is a training that spans two days and several high schools. Each individual high school gets day one all to itself and the second day all of the students meet at Hutchinson Community College together.

Our Student Advocacy Training this year, S.T.E.E.R. Your Life (Steps to Teach Empowerment through Education and Responsibility), was partially funded by the Richard W. Dillon Youth Philanthropy Grant provided by the Hutchinson Community Foundation. This 2-day training focuses on informing students of their rights, responsibilities, expectations, and possibilities. We learned about the history of people with disabilities and important people who helped change things for the better. We spent time discussing dreams and goals then we worked on setting some goals ourselves and discussing how to make them happen. We ended the day reflecting on what was learned and the students each wrote a letter to themselves about the day.

Since starting here at PILR, I have learned more and more about how people with disabilities have had to wait the longest to gain the same civil rights as everyone else. There was a time when it was seen as acceptable to end someone’s life simply because they had a disability. Somehow having a disability made a life unworthy to continue. Some caretakers still feel they have the right to murder their family members because of an inconvenience. Every year on March 1st, the disability community comes together to remember the victims of filicide, people with disabilities murdered by their family members. Vigils are held on the Day of Mourning around the world and on social media. (https://disability-memorial.org/)

I grew up around many people with disabilities. My mother always worked in environments that introduced me to adults or children with disabilities. It was not abnormal for me, and their families never made it seem like an inconvenience to take care of someone that they loved. I didn’t realize the struggle that people with disabilities face even though I was around them. It’s not something that is talked about in the community. We have to make it something that is talked about and that is what we strive to do here at PILR. We want people with disabilities to know about the struggle, the advancements, and the all the work that is left to ensure everyone has the same rights and opportunities.

-Karrlita F.