Ollie J. Seay, Ph.D., Texas State University
AAIDD Texas Chapter President
The beginning of a new year brings an opportunity for reflection. As I start my year as President of AAIDD Texas Chapter, I find myself wondering what the future holds for our field, our organization, and the individuals we serve. The country and the State of Texas have experienced social and political strain, the likes of which we have not seen since the 1960s and 1970s. Friends, families, and co-workers find themselves at odds on questions of social justice, civil rights, and basic beliefs. At times, the world seems unrecognizable as the one we lived in just a few years ago. Yet, I believe that some good may still come of this situation.
It is my hope that these struggles lead to renewed interest in social issues by more of the populace. I think we are already seeing that interest reflected in the activism of those who have joined marches and public events to speak their minds and work towards goals (no matter their political party). It is this kind of civic interest that sparked our nation to establish government programs to address the needs of the poor, the elderly, persons of ethnic diversity, and persons with disabilities in the 60s and 70s. Medicaid, Medicare, the Education of All Handicapped (PL 94-142), the Civil Rights Act, the Peace Corp, and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), among many other programs began during that time, not to mention state legislation aimed at addressing rights and needs of persons with intellectual and mental disabilities. I would hope that the struggles we are facing now would lead toward more positive social changes and the development of programs that highlight our humanity.
To keep us in touch with what is happening at the state level, I have asked Dion White to contribute an article in this issue of the newsletter. It is early in the session, but he already has much to report. I hope you will read his article carefully.
I see AAIDD Texas Chapter as being more important than ever in terms of providing a home for our members to learn about issues, best practices, and ways to support the individuals we serve and our field. Our conferences and regional trainings area aimed at addressing these needs. I know that Pat Craig, our Convention Chair, and his committee are working hard to bring you the kind of trainings that will be valuable to you. Our theme this year for the convention to be held at the Weston Galleria in Houston July 25-28 is Exploring Possibilities: Creating Opportunities. The Call for Papers has been sent out. If you are considering a presentation, please get your proposals in by March 3. While we enjoy healthy attendance at our conventions and trainings, most attendees are not members. There is power in numbers. AAIDD Texas Chapter needs the power and energy of an active membership. I hope you will encourage others to join.
If you want to become an activist in our organization, please contact any member of the Board of Trustees. We want to hear from you, and we can always use your energy to help with any number of projects. Let’s have a good year!