From the Battlefield, to the Hallow Ground… to Space – Just a Typical Week at NDSS – #WeirsWeek

“(Almost) four score (divided by two) years ago, our National Down Syndrome Society co-founders brought forth on this continent, a new nonprofit organization, conceived that people with Down syndrome deserved more, and dedicated to the proposition that all individuals with Down syndromIMG_3223e are created equal and are entitled to the same human rights as all other Americans.

It is for us, this great team, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which needs to be done on behalf of all people with Down syndrome and their families. It is for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that we highly resolve and recommit each year to our mission, our self-advocates, our families, our advocates, our athletes, our supporters, our future employers and so many others —that this NDSS shall continue to grow, evolve, advocate and be an organization for people with Down syndrome, by the people with Down syndrome.”

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day! For me, Memorial Day is always a great day to reflect on the past. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend this Memorial Day – finishing the book Killer Angels to prepare for our 2017 NDSS Staff Retreat at Gettysburg with the Lincoln Leadership Institute this week.

2017 NDSS Staff Retreat 

Our dedicated team spent the first day with the President of the Lincoln Leadership Institute studying the leadership and the Battle of Gettysburg and Civil War on the same grounds where the most influential battle of the civil war was fought. On the second day, we assessed our organization and put in place new strategies and initiatives to support our mission, as the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome, to ensure we keep reaching for that “higher ground” and channel great transformational leadership and change – just like Col. Chamberlain accomplished in the Battle of Gettysburg. I am incredibly proud of our amazing NDSS tribe, who all even participated in our #TeamNDSS work-out at 6 am, for their dedication, vision, passion and leadership they put into serving all individuals with Down syndrome and their families. Stay tuned for some big updates this summer from NDSS!

One-Year Anniversary of ABLE Accounts

While our team was retreat-ing, we also marked a significant milestone for the disability community. June 1st, 2017 – much like the epic battle of Gettysburg in 186313331149_10208380145237823_8868320026358975276_n – represents a turning point in the disability community’s battle for economic self-sufficiency. We celebrated the one-year anniversary of National ABLE Accounts. Ohio’s STABLE Program opened for business one year ago today and we have a lot to celebrate. According to my friend, Paul Curley from 529 Dash, since March 30, 2017, there have been 7,286 ABLE Accounts opened with over $25.5 million invested – that is simply amazing and I can’t wait for our Q2 2017 updates! You can find more information about ABLE Programs that are
available here.

Please join NDSS and our ABLE Alliance for Financial Empowerment in celebrating the anniversary of National ABLE Accounts being a reality, but remember that this war is not totally won with legislation in the Halls of Congress or by the stroke of a President’s pen. Rather, it is won in the hearts and minds of all our advocates —and who fight on this new battlefield – by making phone calls, meeting with Members of Congress, State Legislators, sent tweets and most importantly – those self-advocates, our best soldiers, who told their personal stories and truly made ABLE a reality!

Houston: We “Don’t” Have a Problem – Building Bridges in Houston This Weekend

I am honored to spend the weekend with so many leaders from the medical and clinical community that work day in and day out to serve patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities for the “Building Bridges Conference” hosted by the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) at the Cooley Center, part of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices. This was a unique conference on health and healthcare for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities – and I had the esteemed privilege to moderate the “Building Bridges Panel” this morning with experts from across the country.

Working with, collaborating with and forging partnerships with these individuals, leaders and organizations, I can tell you the future is bright for individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities – there are no problems in Houston (other than the humidity) today!

–Onward & Upward – SHW

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