What is Opening Minds, Opening Doors?
Participants will be professionally trained to speak and present at conferences and other events. Through workshops focused on narrative storytelling and presentation techniques, participants will work to develop strong, creative voices, as well as the skills necessary to advocate for disability rights. Participants will also receive mentoring and coaching from the Project Coordinator, their peers, and other professionals.
Self-advocates will be encouraged to tell their life stories, their abilities, needs, hopes, and dreams. Through telling these stories, they will help to create positive change in public awareness and public policy that affects people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
For many years, VSA Texas has worked with individuals with disabilities to give voice to a whole range of stories, memories, attitudes, and experiences not usually shared with the general public. We use an autobiographical performance format because it gives people a chance to put forth their own arguments and interpretations of who they are, and how they came to be.
It is our goal that participants in the program will gain increased self-esteem and confidence, thereby becoming more effective advocates for change. Through public speaking engagements, misconceptions about people with disabilities can be set straight with frank, moving, and engaging stories of their actual lives.
Who is VSA Texas
VSA Texas challenges perceptions of how people contribute by creating an arts-inspired, inclusive community of individuals with diverse abilities.
VSA Texas is an expert resource on inclusive arts. We create and maintain an accessible and open community where everyone can participate. Our goal is to provide support and training to the public, enhance personal growth, and offer Texans access to the creative work of all people.
VSA Texas, a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit, believes that arts experiences enhance the skills, confidence and quality of life for people with disabilities. We support this by offering programs that enable educational achievement and career success, events that feature the work of our artists, and specialized arts training for artists, educators and service providers.
Recognizing that every person has a voice that deserves to be heard, VSA Texas partners with supporters, volunteers, community organizations, educators, and state and local governments across Texas to promote and facilitate people with and without disabilities working together to create inclusive and strong communities.
We challenge ourselves and our communities to build bridges and strength by making cultural programming and venues available to everyone.
Financial Support for Opening Minds, Opening Doors:
Promoting Self-Advocates as Speakers is provided by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities and made available by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
*$125,000 (75%) DD funds; $41,666 (25%) non-federal resources