JAN was elected as President of Speaking for Ourselves-Colorado in October of 2013. BUT she is not new to self-advocacy or to community service.
Read on to understand Jan's commitment to self-advocacy and disability rights.
WHY DO YOU BELIEVE SELF-ADVOCACY IS SO IMPORTANT?
There are a lot of reasons. Basically it is to let people know that people with disabilities can do anything they set their mind to.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME INVOLVED IN SELF-ADVOCACY?
A while ago. I have really been with The Arc for 20 years. I was really involved with the People First language bill with all the chapters.
WHAT ISSUES DO YOU FACE IN THE COMMUNITY THAT ARE RELATED TO YOUR DISABILITY?
I have a good support system from my 3 brothers and 2 sisters. I am part of DDRC as a Board member and consumer representative, and I get some services from them. I have a provider that comes weekly to help me with grocery shopping, errands, bills, household stuff, my checkbook. Basically I am in the community a lot.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO GET PLACES?
I get some help from the Community Center Board for access-a-ride and access-a-cab and also with coupons for light rail when my provider is with me. I used to get vouchers for taxi rides but that program went away. I get rides from other people to People First meetings at night. I can walk to the coffeehouse where we get together once a month.
WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT ISSUES IN COLORADO FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES?
Jobs are important. I had a 35 year career with the government and am retired now. I am very proud of what did there. It is hard to be a person with disabilities and be accepted in the workplace outside of workshops. People still look at us as not being able to work outside workshops. We just need to keep on them and hopefully it will improve.
I have my Associates Degree from Auraria, got it in 1977.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT PEOPLE FIRST AND SPEAKING FOR OURSELVES?
Getting together with my friends every quarter for the state meeting and monthly here in Jeffco. It makes me part of a community. The Arc and DDRC are big parts of my life...i feel good because i am achieving and giving back to the community.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE SPEAKING FOR OURSELVES ACCOMPLISH WHILE YOU ARE PRESIDENT?
I want us to continue to do the things that are important to the organization, like getting the by-laws improved. I want the officers to learn accountability for their jobs. I'd like to re-do our organization's PATH plan.
TELL ME ABOUT THE PICTURE OF YOU WITH SENATOR TED KENNEDY?
I was there for a conference in DC with DDRC in 2005. Our group went to lunch with Senator Ken Salazar and as we were going up, Senator Kennedy was coming down. Ron Marquez with DDRC talked to Senator Kennedy and told him he had someone who wanted to meet him and would he wait for her to come down. He did. That picture is the first thing you see at my place. I think he is a hero for people with disabilities for the Americans with Disabilities Act and he signed more legislation for people with disabilities than any other Senator.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
I like to read biographies. I do a lot of computer work. My favorite TV shows are NCIS and NCIS-LA. I like Dancing with the Stars too. I go on outings with my family and with my provider in the community.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND?
We need to be accepted for ourselves. People need to look at us as People First and the disability should be the last thing they look at. That's why we are called PEOPLE FIRST.