Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Miss Emma goes to Olympia

I've finally got the time to share a little more information and some pictures from our trip to our state capitol. Last week was a long and busy week, and I'm very happy to have fewer obligations this week. I need the break!

We live about 2 hours from Olympia, and we needed to sign in at the committee hearing at 9:30am, so we were up and out the door by 6:45am. Emma is a fantastic road tripper, and was really excited to go - I had been showing her some video of other committee hearings, so she knew what we were going to do.

The trip was uneventful, and by 9:15 we had found a parking spot and were walking over to the capitol. I gave Emma her camera, and here are some of the pictures she shot.

This is the building where we testified.

Once we signed in, we got to sit and wait. Emma was okay with this, since I'd brought our Zune and she could watch a movie. I was okay with this, too, because it gave me a chance to chat with some other folks who were there, including Cecile Lindquist and Cassie Johnston from the WEECARE Coalition. They were there to testify as well, and helped me feel a bit less nervous.

We were extremely lucky, because the bill we were testifying about was first on the schedule, and after Cecile and Cassie spoke, we were called up. If you watch the video below, you can probably hear my knees knocking because I was so nervous, but Emma handled it like a pro.

The bill we were testifying about is Senate Bill 5373. It's called the Infant Toddler Equity Act, and is designed to create parity in funding for birth-to-three services across all the counties in Washington state. You can find more information here.

I said my piece, the other mom from our county spoke, and that was it! Over in a flash, but I felt like the committee was actually listening to what we had to say - the chair even invited Emma to say hello, but my girl chose that moment to get a case of the shys and pulled her dress up over her face. Oh well, can't have everything perfect!

Here's Emma in the hall when we were done. I bought her outfit especially for this day - it's from Gymboree's tulip line. For those of you who aren't familiar with the significance of tulips in the Down syndrome world, there's an essay called "Welcome to Holland" that most parents are given soon after their child is born. It was written by Emily Perl Kingsley, a writer for the show Sesame Street, and mother of a son with Down syndrome. It's a beautiful piece, and you can read it here.

We posed for a picture in front of the capitol building, of course.

We went into the building, and stood under the big dome. Emma said, "Mom, it's beautiful!" I had to agree.

Last but not least, we paid a visit to our Senator's office - Senator Steve Hobbs. He was in a committee meeting, but his legislative aide was wonderful. Thanks for the tour, Kristy!

The whole experience was pretty amazing, and I highly recommend it to everyone. There's something empowering about feeling you're actually participating in the legislative process. When I spoke, these senators listened. Whether things go my way or not, I was able to have my say at that level.

As we were walking back to our car, I told Emma that one day, she will be a self-advocate. She won't need me to speak up for her, she'll be able to do it herself. I told her that one day, we will go to a hearing like this, and she'll be the one doing the talking. She looked up at me and said, in an almost reverent voice, "Emma too?" When I told her, yes, Emma could testify, too, she had just one word to say.


I couldn't have said it better myself.


luvmypeanut said...

Beautiful! Loved this post!!! Emma's pictures are great... I see a career in it for her!!!

Congrats on a job well done!

AZ Chapman said...

looks like a fun filled day happy v day

Crystal said...

Great post!!


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