#HandsOff is a series on The Arc Blog where individuals and families across The Arc’s network share their stories about how some of today’s key policy issues impact their day to day lives.
During August Recess, Members of Congress return to their home states to meet with their constituents. It’s the perfect time for advocates to meet with legislators and tell them #HandsOff important programs – like Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and much more.
Nobody says #HandsOff during August Recess better than Anthony Nash! Anthony is an active self-advocate in his home state of Washington. He is a member of The Arc’s National Council of Self-Advocates and The Arc of Washington’s Self-Advocates in Leadership (SAIL) coalition. Anthony also serves on the Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council and the board of Disability Rights Washington.
Anthony has fought for issues important to people with disabilities for several years. Here’s what he had to say about advocacy during August Recess:
How did you get involved in advocacy?
I used to work in a sheltered workshop. I got pushed around a lot and even called the r-word there. So one day, I went to the library and asked the librarian for books on disability rights. I read about how people with disabilities have [the same] equal rights as any other person. After that, I joined some advocacy groups and started to stand up for myself.
What does being a self-advocate mean to you?
Self-advocacy means quite a bit to me. A lot of people look down on people with disabilities and think we can’t amount to anything. I do everything I can to prove them wrong. Being a self-advocate lets me show others that we are equal, that we deserve respect, and that we should not be discriminated against in any manner.
Why do you think it is important for people with disabilities to advocate for programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) during August Recess?
These programs are our lifeline! Most of our leaders don’t understand that these programs cover significant needs. Since I was four years old, SSI has helped to pay for my food, clothes, transportation, and other living expenses. I use Medicaid to pay for the medicine and doctor visits I need. Self-advocates need to speak up during August Recess when legislators are back home so they know why these programs are important to us.
Ready to join Anthony in saying #HandsOff during August Recess? Take a few minutes to call YOUR Members of Congress and tell them why Medicaid and SSI are important to you. Then encourage your family and friends to call, too!