People with disabilities have the right to manage their own lives and make their own decisions, with support if they need it. And self-advocates provide support to each other as well as educating policymakers and the public.
Tonight on Speak Up Arkansas, we’ve got a fantastic panel of Arkansans who are leading the self advocacy movement in our state. What self-advocacy is, why it’s important, how self-advocates are fighting for a fully inclusive Arkansas, and how you can get involved. Disability self advocates have their say, tonight on Speak Up Arkansas.
Guests: Michael Thornton, Self Advocacy Coordinator at Disability Rights Arkansas; Sherice Smith, Disability Program Specialist in the Disability and Health program at the University of Arkansas and coordinator of the Arkansas Disability Policy Consortium; Estie Johnson; Nicole Lewis; and Eric Treat.
You can listen LIVE at 5:00 PM tonight on KABF 88.3 FM, livestream the show at kabf.org, or as always, we’ll post the episode on our website so you can listen anytime.
About our guests:
Michael Thornton is the self advocate coordinator for Disability Rights Arkansas, He travels around the state (in-person or virtually), training advocates to speak up for themselves and help build self-advocacy chapters. Michael is the self advocacy faculty advisor for the Arkansas and Mississippi leadership education program for neurodevelopmental and related disabilities. He currently serves as President of the Disability Coalition Board and was nominated to the Community Advisory Committee of the University of Arkansas – Partners for Inclusive Communities, where he has previously served as Chairperson.
Eric Treat is a fixture at the Arkansas State Capitol, where he has worked to end the use of the “R” word in legislative bills and advocates for state policies that are responsive to the needs of Arkansans with disabilities. He also works to involve more self-advocates in Toastmasters International. Eric has been involved in the Leadership Education on Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities program at UAMS, where he was one of Michael’s first trainees! He also works to educate our United States Senators and congressional delegation on issues facing people with disabilities in order to ensure better public policy for people with disabilities.
Estie Johnson is 19 years old. She has a muscle disease called congenital myopathy. She has a trach and a vent and works with a caregiver at all times. Estie’s goal as a self advocate is to spread awareness surrounding disability, and to help people with disabilities overcome their barriers in life even if they have a lot of medical equipment and caregivers with them.
Sherice Smith currently works with the Disability and Health program at the University of Arkansas as their Disability Program Specialist. She’s been a self-advocate and worked in the movement for 20 years. She works so that she and her brothers and sisters in the disability community can have the most inclusive life possible.
Nicole Lewis has been advocating for people with disabilities since the age of 12 and throughout junior high and high school. She also does public speaking on the subject of disability advocacy and hopes one day to develop a new program to create more awareness, jobs, education and inclusion.
Learn more about the Self Advocates Network Development program at DisabilityRightsAR.org/SAND.
You can contact Eric Treat at 501-517-5006.