PFN wants to hear YOUR VOICE! Click here to see our Goals and Activities for 2019-2020
People First Chapters
Self-Advocates across the state are organizing to learn and practice advocacy, serve our communities, and have some fun! Click here to find your local People First chapter.
Click here for information on advocacy, how to organize a chapter and run a meeting, self-determination, inclusion, person-centered planning, advisor training, and PFN documents and self-advocacy products.
Our annual convention is legendary! Click here for information about our next convention and pictures from past conventions.
Disability Policy Specialists Bring the Voices of People With Disabilities to Elected Officials
For the legislative year, people with disabilities are working as Disability Policy Specialists at our state capitol and in Washington DC. People First members and other people with disabilities are paid to get training and mentoring to become effective disability policy advocates. Specialists learn the following:
- How to analyze laws and legislation
- Understanding the Legislative process
- How to develop relationships with lawmakers
- How to collaborate with other organizations with shared interests
- How to prepare and deliver testimony
- How to mentor others with disabilities to advocate for themselves
Collaboration Makes it Happen! The success of this program lies in the strong partnerships between several disability organizations in Nebraska:
People First of Nebraska provides financial support for 2 Disability Policy Specialists from the ranks of their membership, including mileage. This funding is made possible through a grant from the Nebraska Developmental Disabilities Council. People First of Nebraska also selects priority legislation for the legislative session.
Nebraska LEND provides FTE of their Training Director and Self-Advocate Faculty to coordinate the program and supervise the trainees. A sub-contract with Disability Rights Nebraska provides supervision and funding for 2 additional Disability Policy Specialists, both of whom are college students with disabilities.
Additional mentoring is provided by the Executive Directors of The Arc of Nebraska and the Nebraska Statewide Independent Living Council. These agencies also provide in-kind office space for the trainees.
My Home Is Where My Heart Lives
Policy Advocacy In Action: A Disability Policy Specialist and a People First of Nebraska member attended the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. for the first time and spoke with an aide to Congressman Fortenberry and Senators Fisher and Sasse about voting rights and employment barriers for people with disabilities. Disability Policy Specialist were invited speakers at the 2019 Women’s March on a very cold day in Lincoln, Nebraska. They spoke impromptu about physical barriers encountered by people with disabilities when they were faced with inaccessible steps to the speaker’s podium. They also educated the march about the penalties people with disabilities experience if they choose to marry. DPS successfully educated senators about the need for children two have two hearing aides if needed, not just the one covered by insurance.
Long Distance Policy Advocacy: In 2020, PFN chose a DPS from Scottsbluff, Nebraska, about 450 miles west of our state capitol. She participates in training activities via video conference and occasional trips to the state capitol and is producing videos and social media to show individuals with disabilities and their families how to be effective policy advocates no matter where they live.
How Can YOU become a Disability Policy Advocate? People First begins recruiting for the next year's Disability Policy Specialists every fall. Work starts in December, before the legislative session begins. Any person with a disability is qualified to apply. This is a contract position that pays $12.50 per hour and lasts the length of the legislative session (4-6 months). You do NOT have to live in Lincoln to be a DPS! Funding is available pay for transportation/telecommunting. For more information, e-mail Kellie Ellerbusch or call 402-559-4892 or e-mail Mary Angus .
PFN Elects New Officers
PFN elects new officers every three years. At our 2018 convention, the membership elected Renee Harp, PF of Grand Island, as Vice President and re-elected Dana Shaw, PF of SE Nebraska, as Secretary.
At the 2020 convention, PFN members will hold elections for President, Treasurer, and Sargent-At-Arms. If you are interested in running for office, go to our Elections Page to learn more about the duties of each officer . You can also print a nomination form for you and your chapter to fill out.
2nd Annual PF of Beatrice Mini-Conference Draws Bigger Crowd, New Presenters
People First of Beatrice hosted it's Second Annual Mini-Conference on May 5, 2018. Attendees from several PFN chapters and the Beatrice area heard presentations on telling their stories, using the public library, dressing for success, the history of Cinco DeMayo, following your interests, and talking to policymakers. Later in the afternoon, attendees enjoyed fun networking activities and a dance.
Check out this great newspaper article from the Beatrice Daily Sun about the event
"Beatrice Police Officer Anthony Chisano was on hand with police dog Toro to give a glimpse into a K-9 Unit in law enforcement. Much to the delight of Toro, the presentation was followed by getting to be pet by all attendees.
'Our main goal of this is for all of our people that are here to learn more about how to speak up for themselves and become more independent,' said Donna Meyers who worked to organize the event. 'But we also want them to have fun.'
Mary Kosch came to the People First Mini-Convention from Columbus, traveling down with a group of six other members. She said her favorite parts were learning more about libraries and meeting Toro. 'You always learn something every time,' Kosch said. 'My husband and I have been going to the conventions in Kearney going on 17 or 18 years.'
There were also a gaggle of therapy dogs on hand during the dance, ready to make new friends. An Irish setter named Murphy showed off his dancing skills while the other four dogs sat outside in the shade, happily being pet by attendees.
Renee Harp, who came to the convention from Grand Island, is the vice president of People First Nebraska and will be representing the group at the national People First convention in Alabama in June. She was just picked to attend at the most recent board meeting and said she’s proud to represent Nebraska on a national level. 'I want them to know all over the country about People First of Nebraska,' Harp said. 'We're special people who can advocate for themselves.' "
PFN President Featured in Local Newspaper
Check out this great newspaper article about PFN President Travis Schaffer and his path to finding employment and self-determination.
Discovering Our Leadership Skills and Developing our Vision for the Future
EVERYONE HAS LEADERSHIP SKILLS!! Current and emerging leaders within People First of Nebraska attended a leadership development retreat on July 14. Erin Stoll and Alisa Hoffman from Special Olympics presented on the 10 types of leadership skills. Everyone took a survey that identified their three strongest leadership skills and learned how to use those skills to advocate and to build their local chapters and state People First organization.
In the afternoon, Stephanie Sanford from the Self Advocate Coalition of Kansas helped the team envision what we would like Nebraska to look like in 5 years. We then voted on what we thought were the five most important issues and developed the following vision statement:
"We envision a Nebraska where self-advocates speak for themselves; where the public and educational systems are more aware of disability self advocacy; where no one uses the "R" word; and where accessible public transportation is readily available."
Once we had our vision developed, we broke into three teams to brainstorm about how to 1) Educate and Raise Awareness, Build new Chapters, and 3) Promote Advocacy through Leadership and Teamwork.
PFN Education & Awareness Workgroup
PFN Community Engagement Workgroup
PFN Advocacy Workgroup
Platte River Valley Chapter Hosts Nutrition Conference
On April 8, 2017, PF members from Fremont, Blair, Wahoo, and Omaha attended a one-day nutrition conference hosted by the Platte River Valley People First chapter. About 20 people learned about the importance of eating healthy, natural foods and how to plan our meals. Nutritionist Paula Sewell and Nancy Heller presented.
People First of Nebraska attended the Self-Advocate Coalition of Kansas Conference
With funds provided by the Nebraska Planning Council on DD and matching funds provided by PFN, 25 self-advocates and staff attended the SACK conference in Topeka, Kansas. We enjoyed learning about how our partners to the south run their state organization, their conference, and their officer elections. We met lots of new self-advocates and got great ideas for the future of People First of Nebraska!
This web site is developed and maintained through the generous support of the
Nebraska Council on Developmental Disabilities
University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities