As an independent living center, Living Independently for Today and Tomorrow’s systems change advocacy is based on the simple philosophy of “Nothing about us without us!” In other words, we believe that policymakers whether at the local, state, or federal level should not be making decisions that affect the lives and wellbeing of persons with disabilities without hearing directly from persons with disabilities.
Simply put, we believe that people with disabilities have the right to control their own lives and enjoy the same opportunities as all other citizens. This includes the right to:
- Make their own decisions and direct their own affairs.
- Have a family life.
- Have choices in services, transportation, housing, education, and employment.
- Participate fully in the social, economic, and political life in their communities and
- Contribute their unique talents and abilities as respected members of their communities.
Although traditionally associated with direct protest actions such as those exemplified by the 1990 “Capital Crawl,” systems change advocacy has evolved to incorporate a wide variety of political strategies and public policy development. You don’t need to be a “rabble-rouser” to be involved with systems change work here at LIFTT.
On a statewide level, one of the ways LIFTT is involved in advocating for and creating policies that further the goals of independent living is by participating in the Montana Association of Centers for Independent Living. The Montana Association of Centers for Independent Living work serves as the statewide advocacy partner for Montana’s four CILs and also provides an action alert service that notifies and provides links to action steps for advocates when issues of importance to Montanans with Disabilities arise in the public discourse. Click below to sign up for the Montana CIL Action Alert System.
Montana IL Task Forces & Legislative Advocacy Committee
Along with the Montana Association of CILs, LIFTT is involved in a collection of statewide task forces whose membership consists of staff, peers, and consumers from all four Montana Independent Living Centers, as well as other advocates. There are currently five task forces, each covering a specific policy area: Community Living Task Force, Native American Task Force, Self-Determination Task Force, Transportation Task Force, and Youth & Employment Task Force. The Legislative Advocacy Committee serves as an executive clearinghouse for information from all the Montana IL Task Force and helps to prioritize the statewide advocacy agenda for IL in Montana.
On a national level, LIFTT participates in advocacy efforts as a proud member of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL). Click here to visit NCIL’s Advocacy Monitor Blog for the latest in what is going on in Washington and around the nation.
Independent Living in rural areas such as Eastern Montana brings with it unique challenges and opportunities that may not exist in more urban areas. Because of this, LIFTT is a proud member of the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL). APRIL provides leadership and resources on rural independent living. As a national membership organization, APRIL is dedicated to advancing the rights and responsibilities of people with disabilities in rural America by serving as a center of resources and by leading systems change.
Sending a letter to the editor or contacting your elected officials
Perhaps the simplest way to become an advocate for systems change is to let your local community and elected leaders know what is important to you by sending a letter to your local media or contacting an official.
- Find your local newspaper (Montana Newspaper Association)
- Find your local radio and TV stations (Montana Broadcasters Association)
- President Joseph R. Biden
- United States Senator Jon Tester
- United States Senator Steve Daines
- United States Representative Matt Rosendale
- Montana Governor Greg Gianforte
- Montana Legislature
- Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
If you are interested in getting involved in systems change advocacy, contact LIFTT Outreach & Government Affairs Coordinator Jed Barton at 406-294-5186 or email@example.com.