What does it mean to be a leader? Spotlight on PAL: Presentation, Advocacy & Leadership.
What does it mean to be a leader? What does it mean to advocate for yourself? How can telling your own story be a tool for self empowerment? How can criticism be constructive, rather than destructive? These are just a few of the important questions that PHAME students are tackling each week in our new class, PAL: Presentation, Advocacy & Leadership.
Here at PHAME, we talk a lot about how our society gives people with I/DD the scraps. How people with I/DD aren’t offered the resources, information, and experiences that people without disabilities frequently take for granted. People with I/DD don’t often get asked about what makes them feel empowered, or what leadership qualities they see in themselves. But in the PAL class, students are empowering themselves by diving into these questions.
Kyle Brushwein is in the PAL class, and he’s also a Classroom Assistant here at PHAME. Asked what being a leader means to him, he says, “To me it means being yourself, to be a role model to others, so you can lead, or teach, the next generation of kids or adults with disabilities.” And how does he express being a leader? “Being kind. Being open minded. Being reliable…let your true colors fly.” For his end of term presentation, Kyle focused on different kinds of leadership, and expressed his passionate opinion that leaders should listen to the people they serve and put their needs first. He confirmed to the group that that’s what he strives to do in his role as Classroom Assistant.
The PAL class is open to all PHAME students, and like all our classes, students are welcome to take the class multiple times. It’s taught by Rob Smith, our Director of Community Engagement, and Kayla Czysz, our Resource Coordinator, but class time is mostly used for discussions, and the students drive the conversation. Asked who should take the class, Rob and Kayla agree that all you need to join the class is to be open to new ideas, and to want to engage.
Registration for the PAL class—and all our other exciting Winter Term classes—opens Monday, December 10. If you’re an adult with I/DD and you want to learn more about leadership, empowerment, and advocating for yourself, we hope you’ll sign up.