Training offered for Minnesotans with disabilities and their parents

Published 3:54 pm Saturday, June 3, 2017

To Increase their knowledge and confidence, and gain new tools and strategies to better advocate for their needs, Minnesotans with disabilities, and parents of young children with developmental disabilities, are encouraged to apply for the Partners in Policymaking leadership training program.  Sessions are held monthly over eight months, starting in September 2017.  Application deadline is July 10.

This groundbreaking program was developed by the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. 

“Graduates report that they gained a greater understanding of disability law and policies, and increased their self confidence in advocating for their needs,” said Dr. Colleen Wieck, executive director of the Governor’s Council.  “Many have become leaders in their own communities as they speak up for people with disabilities.” 

The Minnesota-inspired program is also offered in most states and several foreign countries.

Described by many as life-changing, the highly acclaimed and finely-tuned leadership training taps into national experts, and utilizes group participatory learning experiences.  There is no cost for participants.  In its 30-year history, it has helped more than 900 Minnesotans to become effective advocates for themselves, their children, and others with disabilities.

Sessions cover the history of the disability and self-advocacy movements, inclusive education, supported living, competitive employment, and avenues to influence county, state and federal legislative processes.  To make participation convenient, the two-day sessions are held on Fridays and Saturdays, from September to May (with no session in December), except for a Sunday and Monday session in March when participants prepare and meet with legislators at the Capitol.

Costs for the Partners program are covered by a federal grant. Child care and respite allowances are given, and overnight accommodations are also provided for those who travel from outside the metro area to attend. Mileage is reimbursed and meals are also provided.  Sessions are held at the Crowne Plaza Aire, at 3 Appletree Square in Bloomington, near the Mall of America and the MSP International Airport.

Limited to 40 Minnesota residents, the class members are selected by a panel of Partners graduates and representatives of the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities.  The first session for the 2017 to 2018 program year is September 15 to 16.  Local experts and nationally recognized leaders in school inclusion, community organizing, governmental processes, and disability issues are among the presenters.  The application deadline is July 10.

“This program is based on the belief that systems change is best brought about through the efforts of those most affected by them, and we seek to arm these individuals with the tools needed to be successful in the public policy arena,” said Wieck.

Those selected to participate in the program must attend all sessions and complete homework assignments.  For further information or to receive an application form, visit or contact Brenton Rice at or 651-242-6589.

The Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities introduced the Partners in Policymaking program in 1987, and, through expansion to other states and countries, has trained more than 27,000 people worldwide.