People First of Nebraska, Inc.
PO Box 5292
Grand Island, NE 68802
People First of Nebraska has had a very successful launching of our new series of disability awareness and advocacy posters developed by self-advocates in Nebraska. Two posters were developed with messages for healthcare providers and service providers and a third that describes the traits and roles of self-advocates and how others can support self-advocates. A fourth poster provides similar information about inclusion and self-advocacy for the general public. These posters were developed using actual quotes and comments by individuals with disabilities, with spirited and thoughtful discussion of the PFN Board. Our original run of 500 posters have been completly exhausted and demand continues, including from disability advocacy organizations in other states, and so we have printed a second run of posters available now.
Three new officers were elected in October of last year, and a new officer orientation module was developed and presented to them, along with a notebook containing bylaws, meeting agendas and minutes, financial reports, committee reports, board and committee rosters, etc. The PFN Board meets quarterly and various standing and ad hoc committees meet via conference call as needed.
PFN staff has identified the transportation entities in all communities in which PFN has a chapter and who provide public transportation. Local chapters received a “Chapter Chat” worksheet to provide input on how they manage their transportation needs and how they would like public transportation to serve them better. PFN has contacted transportation agencies in several communities to discuss some of the issues people with disabilities have when using public transportation, and requested information on how to become a member of their community advisory boards and will follow-up with formal requests. Along with our efforts to include self-advocates on community transportation boards, PFN offers our expertise in disability advocacy to provide technical assistance, including nominating self-advocates to serve on their boards or advisory committees and assistance in developing accessible programs and/or training activities.
A PFN Board member, Travis Schafer of People First of Norfolk, and a staff support person have participate in monthly conference calls with the representatives from Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa in the Heartland Regional Self-Advocacy Network. We have identified a steering committee for Nebraska activities on this grant that include People First members, representatives from the mental health and traumatic brain injury advocacy communities, advocates with physical disabilities, adolescent and adult advocates on the autism spectrum, and representatives from western and northern Nebraska. This steering committee will meet first in June.
We also formed our third new chapter in 5 months with the formation of People First of the Panhandle (Western Nebraska). The key to the success of our recruitment efforts is getting our crack recruitment team of self-advocates and PFN staff out into the community to promote People First and identifying dedicated advisors to help self-advocates organize and recruit new members. This recruitment team attends an organizing meeting and the first two chapter meetings of the new People First Chapter, who are presented with $100 from PFN funds to “seed” the organization and with a wooden gavel with their chapter name on it to help manage their chapter meetings.
Our Facebook page has been active, with new posts added daily. Currently, our page continues to grow, with 265 friends. It and our e-mail address are included on the disability awareness posters. The Spring PFN newsletter went out in February, and included information on achievements of local chapters and the HRSAN project. It was disseminated via Facebook, e-mail and the U.S. mail to about 150 people.
PFN staff has continued to visit local PFN chapters and potential chapters to let them know of the upcoming Request for Proposals from PFN. This RFP will ask local chapters to take a successful medical or wellness training or activity and develop it into a short training module or activity that will be presented by PF members to other local PF chapters and to other disability organizations.
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