DETROIT LAKES – Selected from a pool of statewide applicants, Detroit Lakes resident Amanda Schermerhorn has been accepted into the eight-month Minnesota Partners in Policymaking program leadership training, which begins this fall.
Participants include adults with disabilities and parents raising children with developmental disabilities. Schermerhorn is the mother of four children. Her youngest child, Richard, has autism. He is non-verbal and cognitively retarded. He needs constant supervision and assistance and it is difficult to have time for all the services he needs. Due to district-wide personnel issues associated with his diagnosis, he can only attend school for three hours a day. Although his Individualized Education Program (IEP) requires individual care, it is not always possible for Richard to receive it. Schermerhorn is clearly concerned about the lack of resources and services in rural Minnesota.
Schermerhorn received a political science scholarship for her studies at Moorhead State University and will graduate in 2023. She is taking this course to better advocate for her son.
The program was created by the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. “The goal is to train statewide leaders to partner with school systems, medical and business communities so that all people with disabilities are supported as they become confident, independent and contributing citizens. across the state,” said Dr. Colleen Wieck, executive director of the Governor’s Council.
This highly acclaimed and finely tailored leadership training draws on national experts and uses group participation. Described by many as life changing, in its 35-year history, more than 1,100 Minnesotans have been trained to become leaders in their own communities. Participants become effective advocates for themselves, their children and other people with disabilities.
The Governor’s Council introduced the program in 1987, and through expansion to other states and countries, PIP has trained 1,131 people in Minnesota and more than 29,000 people worldwide.