The IAHD Champions
About The IAHD Champions
In 2019, a group of Individuals participating in programs at IAHD started a journey to learn more about rights for people with disabilities, to become advocates, engaged citizens and to speak up. The group partnered with the Self Advocacy of New York State (SANYS) and decided to take a course on grassroots self-advocacy.
Despite the course being interrupted by the Pandemic in 2020, the motivated group continued to meet via zoom and started to put into practice what they had learned; how to speak up and advocate for themselves. The group hastened a name, “The IAHD Champions” and have came up with a beautiful logo with the meaningful tag line “Together We’re Stronger”. They worked on different projects, including voter registration and education around COVID-19 vaccines and safety.
In April 2021, virtual classes with SANYS resumed and 12 individuals proudly graduated from the course in June 2021. Sandy Mislow from SANYS, who presented the graduates with their certificates said that she was impressed how much advocacy had become a part of the culture of IAHD and how much participants in the course have grown individually and as a group.
Going forward the advocates plan to teach others about human rights, expand the advocacy initiative across IAHD and continue to be engaged and active citizens.
SANYS-U Graduation - June 2021
IAHD CHAMPIONS’ Accomplishments
In April 2021, the IAHD Champions were invited to present at the New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation's Annual Conference. The theme of the conference was the meaningful impact that art had on them during the pandemic and the IAHD Champions, in collaboration with Saori Arts NYC, presented "The Arts Shall Save Us All" during the conference.
In September 2021, The IAHD Champions were invited to present at the SANYS staff conference where they presented "How to Build Positive Relationships with Staff." The SANYS organization have recently invited the IAHD Champions to present at the State-wide SANYS Conference scheduled for December 2021.
This positive reinforcement that others are listening has truly made a difference in their lives. Several individuals advocated successfully for a new classroom that offered activities and learning opportunities of their choice. Most of the group members advocated strongly and successfully to obtain digital devices that allowed them to stay connected to each other. One of the group members acted on his dream to become a member of the IAHD Board of Directors and was successfully appointed to that role in July 2020.
IAHD Champions don’t just speak up for themselves, the group learned the importance of collaborating with others and in that spirit, they encouraged a large group of their peers to join them in a fence weaving project on a beautiful and sunny Spring day. Everyone had the opportunity to try something new, create a work of art together and make the entrance to the Tarrytown Day Habilitation more colorful, visually appealing and an invitation for visitors to learn more about self-advocacy and The IAHD Champions.
List of Graduates: John Carpenter, Dion Dos Santos, Ishard Griffith, Rima Nesheiwat, Tyreek Peartree, Jodi Peterson, Elizabeth Quarshie, Brian Reyes, Sharon Taylor, Michael Vecchio, Daniel Valenti, Hector Vega
New Members: Ana Coleman-Triggs, Mary Ann Parsons, Thomas Corbett,
IAHD Facilitators: Gabi Opazo (Chief Innovation Officer), Lynne Gallinger (Sr. Behavior Specialist)