Frontline Initiative Spirituality
It is a long-standing goal of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) to work in collaboration with other national agencies to promote the field of direct support and thereby enhance the lives of people with disabilities. Therefore NADSP was pleased to join efforts with the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) National Advocacy Campaign (NAC). Mark Olson and Jenifer Adams were selected to represent NADSP on the NAC Steering Committee. The mission of ANCOR’s National Advocacy Campaign is to enhance the lives of people with disabilities by obtaining the resources to recruit, train, and retain a sustainable direct support workforce.
NADSP was proud to support the NAC in promoting a resolution by the U.S. Senate (S. Res. 613) designating the week beginning September 8, 2008, as “National Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week.” The National DSP Recognition Week resolution coincided with ANCOR’s Governmental Activities Seminar and the Second Annual DSPs to DC event. DSPs from across the country gathered in Washington DC and rallied on Capitol Hill to demand better pay for the hard work DSPs do. Both U.S. Representatives Lois Capps (D-CA) and Lee Terry (R-NE) who introduced HR 1279 to Congress, spoke at the rally. They encouraged DSPs and expressed gratitude for the work of DSPs.
Andrea McMurray, DSP and award winner of the NAC DSP TV Online contest, spoke about the challenge DSPs face. “When someone says they’re a veterinarian or an accountant, it’s fairly clear what they do. But tell someone you’re a DSP and they don’t have a clue,” McMurray said. Recognition is one of the biggest challenges DSPs face. Giving a face to DSPs is part of the intent behind the DSPs to DC event. Most DSPs that attended the event also had the opportunity to visit the DC offices of their state representatives and/or senators. It was a great opportunity for DSPs to introduce themselves and tell the story of the work of DSPs.
NADSP and its allies promoted the National DSP Recognition Week locally by encouraging state and local chapters to recognize and commemorate the occasion. Many state and local chapters held picnics and recognition festivities to celebrate. DSPs also took the opportunity to contact and visit state policy makers.
Another activity of the National Advocacy Campaign was an online video contest titled “DSP TV Online.” The entries varied from interviews and comedy skits, to music videos. Six very creative DSPs were chosen as winners. Each winner received a $500 cash prize. The grand prizewinner received $1,000, plus hotel and travel expenses paid to the DSP to DC event held in September 2008. All winners were recognized at the DSP to DC event.
Through partnerships and supporting one another, DSPs can make a difference in the lives of other DSPs and ultimately, in the lives of the people they support.