Wellspring was absolutely privileged to bring a bus filled with our STARS to the State Capitol on January 22nd. Our ultimate Mission is to empower our STARS; it is hard to imagine anything more empowering than providing an opportunity for our STARS to advocate for themselves before our elected officials regarding such an important topic. We all showed up wearing blue to demonstrate our solidarity and our commitment to this critically important cause. While most of us had no speaking role, we are so very proud of and thankful for the Froehlke family, and especially to our very own Brennan Froehlke — the consummate spokesperson, not only for this worthy cause, but for Wellspring Community itself. Margaret graciously shared the following note regarding her family’s experience that day; please also read the excellent article published in the Colorado Sun linked at the end. We look forward to future opportunities to encourage and facilitate self advocacy by our STARS.
END THE WAIT Campaign
January 22, 2020 was an important day in Colorado. The House & Senate Health and Human Services Committees and the Joint Budget Committee held a hearing to discuss the DD-Waiver Waitlist. Many of the committee members have been a part of these committees for a long time and were involved in setting a date back in 2014 to end the DD-Waiver waitlist in 2020, but as we all know, that has yet to happen.
Colorado Alliance, a state-wide advocacy organization for persons with IDD, invited affected Coloradans to this hearing as part of their END THE WAIT Campaign.
Our family along with Bob Bush, Liz Kut, other Wellspring staff members and many of our STARS participated in this event. There were lots of other day program staff and participants present which packed the hearing room plus at least two additional over-flow rooms.
We were invited by CO Alliance to give a brief testimony to the committee. It was hard during the hearing to know what sort of impact we might have had on the legislators. Afterward, however, the CO Alliance folks sent us a few photos, one of which gave us hope.
During our testimony, we sat directly in front of the committee, with our backs to the audience. The photos taken captured both the committee members and audience’s interest level in what was being shared. While Margaret and I were speaking, you could see people looking at their phones or otherwise distracted. However, when Brennan spoke, every head was up, and eyes were on him. Even though Brennan’s articulation was very difficult to understand, the audience was intently listening both to him and to the questions and comments the now focused committee members directed to Brennan. Just like the other STARS at Wellsprings, Brennan’s simple, direct, approach seemed to capture the attention and hearts of the committee and spectators in the room.
Having the opportunity to make a personal impression on this committee, may be all we can do to sway them to take action and end the waitlist. We feel Brennan accomplished this important goal.
If you would like to read more please follow the link below to the Colorado Sun article which further discusses the waitlist issue.