January 10th, 2014
Green Mountain Self-Advocates (GMSA) is a statewide disability rights organization. We have over 600 members with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities involved in 23 local groups throughout the state. Self-Advocates run their own meetings and groups meet at different times each month. GMSA hosts an annual conference called “Voices & Choices”. Self-Advocates are very active in presenting workshops that they create, as well as enjoying social activities such as dinner and dancing. GMSA speaks up on issues in the Vermont Legislature that affect persons with disabilities, and also encourages local members to connect with their own district representatives. We collaborate with many other statewide organizations such as Vermont Center on Independent Living, Vermont Worker’s Center, Developmental Disabilities Council, and Disability Rights Vermont.
Peer to peer connections are very important to us. Connecting with other peers creates an atmosphere that is safe and doesn’t feel controlling. The information we share amongst ourselves is not sugar-coated. When persons with disabilities are involved with each other, they feel they are not alone. We learn and accept one another for who we are. Also, when it comes to speaking up on an issue that affects our lives, we are in it TOGETHER! An important part of our work is reaching out to high school students with disabilities that are preparing to transition to adulthood. We feel this adds energy and enthusiasm to our membership.