Self Advocates Becoming Empowered by Michael Bailey

Note: Recently our Director, Tom Olin, photographed the Self Advocated Becoming Empowered(SABE) Conference in Minnesota. Thanks to Colleen Wieck, ED of the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities, for bringing him there.  Michael Bailey, President of NDRN and a friend of Tom, Janine, Dave, and DRC, attended as well. Michael was gracious enough to write the following blog post about SABE.   


   Photo of New Mexico delegation by Tom Olin


ImageSelf Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) held its’ biennial conference in St. Paul, Minnesota from September 29 to October 2. Over a thousand people with developmental disabilities attended. I went along with my daughter Eleanor Bailey. She went to learn, network, mingle and add her voice to a legitimate agenda for change. Paul Longmore wrote ‘social change movements must be led by its’ constituents.” Nowhere is that move evident then a SABE Conference.

As President of the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) I went to officially thank them for their leadership and support. When NDRN issued its report calling for an end to subminimum wage employment SABE was the first to respond. “Thank you,” they said, “for telling the truth about sheltered workshops.” No need to tell self advocates what exploitation, segregation and poverty mean. They all understand perfectly.

Likewise NDRN has called for the end to the Ashley Treatment. That is the intentional use of surgery to stop normal development of children with disabilities. Once again SABE was there to support that call. No need to ask self advocates what part of mutilation is acceptable. They already know that the answer is none.

This is a wonderful event for the participants as well as for the hundreds of thousands of others who cannot attend. SABE leadership points to a future of empowerment in which “nothing about us without us” is the norm and not just a hopeful slogan.


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