Floridians are making a collaborative effort to develop a voice for people with disabilities. Our VoicesTogether gathered for the first time on Monday, July 9 at the Fort Myers Talking Books Library to establish a coalition that takes a coordinated approach to speaking up on public policy that affects people with disabilities.
A crowd of advocates, members, families and public figures, along with nearly two dozen online participants, met to kick off the campaign that gives those with disabilities a greater voice in the decisions that impact them most. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been forced to deal with sharp declines in funding for programs that assist them. The coalition strives to provide people across the state with the tools necessary to meet this crisis head-on.
Lee County School Board candidates Gerri Ware and Louis Navarra were among those in attendance, as well as Lee County School Board member Melisa W. Giovannelli and David Holden, who is running for the 19th Congressional District.
During the initial organizing session, participants worked collaboratively to name the coalition and identify three main goals:
·Increase the budget for individuals with disabilities,
·Increase rates for services to retain direct support providers,
·Increase accessible and affordable transportation options for people with disabilities.
The public and those wishing to get involved are welcome to attend the next meeting on Monday, August 13 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Fort Myers Talking Books Library at 1651 Lee St., Fort Myers. Those who will not be able to attend may log into the webinar. For information, email Info@OurVoicesTogetherFL.org.