Buddy Walk® on Washington 2011 - Stewart Home & School

Buddy Walk® on Washington 2011

Buddy Walk on Washington 2011

In the picture are Sandy Bell, Sarah Brachman, Rachel Putnam & Dr. Karen Summar, all part of SHS.

Article from the March edition of the National Down Syndrome Society E-Newsletter

On February 7 and 8, NDSS brought together 200 advocates from 31 states in Washington D.C. This annual two-day advocacy experience, the Buddy Walk® on Washington, is a powerful way for the Down syndrome community to send a strong message directly to elected officials about important national policy goals, including improvements for education, research, healthcare and more.

The event kicked off with an interactive training, which prepared all participants for their experiences on Capitol Hill and shared new strategies for successful advocacy. The training included detailed information about national policy priorities.

That evening at the reception and award ceremony, NDSS honored Down syndrome leaders and advocates from across the country. Congressman Pete Sessions presented the Advocate of the Year Award to Sarah Brachman, a young woman with Down syndrome whose accomplishments in the area of legislative advocacy include personally recruiting 30 members of Congress to join the Down Syndrome Congressional Caucus. Senator Lautenberg from New Jersey also spoke to the group in honor of Sarah’s award and accomplishments. The Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress was honored for its cutting edge legislative affairs work. Representative Tom Sannicandro from Massachusetts was on hand to personally present the award.

Also honored were Mary McHale from the Omaha Down Syndrome Parents Network for her work in expanding parent support in Nebraska and Donald Bailey of the College Transition Connection for his important contributions to postsecondary education for students with intellectual disabilities.

The next day the group traveled to Capitol Hill where they met privately with the elected officials from their home states. The group came together in the Cannon House Office Building for a lunch briefing where they heard from members of the House who have worked tirelessly to protect the rights and improve the lives of people with Down syndrome. The featured speaker was Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Congressman Pete Sessions, Congressman Gregg Harper and Congressman Chris Van Hollen also spoke to the group.

Madeleine Will, Vice President of Public Policy at NDSS said, “The Buddy Walk on Washington was such an important and successful opportunity for the Down syndrome community to communicate their needs and priorities to decision-makers in Washington D.C. We know, though, that this work doesn’t end today, but will continue as each group who came to Washington continues to cultivate their relationship with their members throughout the year.”