Natalie Rivard of Hudson and Chelsea Crosby of River Falls recently graduated from Wisconsin Partners in Policymaking and is ready to use her advocacy skills.

"Overall, the most valuable thing I gained from Partners is the confidence in my ability to influence policy and have a voice," Rivard said. "Besides confidence I have gained knowledge on how the legislative process operates and how I can be involved. I appreciate all the relationships I have built through Partners!"

Wisconsin Partners in Policymaking is an advocacy and systems change leadership program from the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities. The program prepares self-advocates and family members of people with disabilities to work on policies and initiatives that will support full participation and inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of life.

"Partners in Policymaking is one of the best investments BPDD can make in creating and amplifying the voice of people with disabilities and their families," said Executive Director Beth Swedeen. "Participants learn to share their personal stories to effectively shape and improve public policy, resulting in more effective supports and better communities."

Nationwide, there are over 15,000 graduates working to make changes in their communities. In Wisconsin there are around 200 graduates from all over the state.