Uniting for Change – How and Why We Advocate

Marian Jackson speaks at Advocacy Days on February 16, 2023.

I also helped to advocate for the closing of the institutions in Georgia. I am a public speaker and I am proud to be a part of Uniting For Change. I have been a part of the leadership collective since the beginning, helping create the group’s mission, vision, and guiding principles.

Today, I would like to discuss the relationships with people that receive supports and their allies/supporters and Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). Many times, people with disabilities are lonely and isolated. The DSPs come and help people with learning how to get out there and make friends. They often get close. DSPs often talk to people with disabilities in ways that can help people to be better. They tend to communicate more and help people with disabilities form relationships and make friends in ways different from a regular friend.

People supports and DSPs are very important to the disability community because they are teaching and helping as they take time. Some people don’t take the time, but DSPs do help and take the time to do things like speak up and even pay a bill. They want to be called normal and not be labeled and you can’t blame them for that. Any question that you ask of a person, they can answer. People with disabilities need to be there with their DSPs to talk about all things about their supports, like transportation, wages, waivers, affordable housing, employment, end the subminimum wage and marriage penalty. We must be at the table. We need to increase the pay of direct support professionals.

They are important to the disability realm and help with all things people in the disability community need to strive for excellence. I am also advocating that the state unlocks the waiting list. Uniting for Change will be here to keep fighting for all people. 

This was the speech I gave during a press conference at the Capitol for Advocacy Day on February 16, 2023. I was asked to share my story by Senators Sally Harrell and John Albers. I believe that this work is about creating relationships and partnerships with providers, state agencies, legislators, and the community. Uniting for Change is looking forward to teaching and advocating for the HCBS Settings Rule so that all self-advocates can live their life of choice by partnering with all.