Understanding Legislative Advocacy

Ideally, our representatives share the same views that we do. However, in an imperfect world, they may need education and persuasion in order to act upon issues that are important to us. In addition, our legislators are more likely to support issues that a large number of voters from their district feel strongly about. If they support issues that are important to enough of their constituents, it could win them the next election! This is where our part comes in as constituents and citizens of this great country. We need to make our issues known and we need to urge our legislators to support those issues. As representatives of “the people,” they are used to getting requests and are interested in what their constituents have to say. Our personal “story” can be very powerful.

Your personal story can be as simple as telling your legislators who you are and why your chosen issue is important to you. You can write a letter, email or even call them.They are very accessible. To find out who your federal legislators are you can go to a link provided by the National Down Syndrome Society at www.ndss.org.

The Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus

One step we can all take today is to ask our Representatives to join the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers (from the eastern side of Washington state) established the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus in 2008, just a year after the birth of her son who has Down syndrome. Like other caucuses, this was established to coordinate efforts and influence policies. Below is a detailed explanation of the mission of the Congressional DS Caucus. As you can see, the goals of this caucus are worthy of our full support.

Mission of Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus

The mission of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus is to educate members of Congress and their staff about Down syndrome. The caucus will support legislative activities that would improve Down syndrome research, education and treatment and promote public policies that would enhance the quality of life for those with Down syndrome.

The Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus Will:

Goals of Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus:

Adapted with permission from the Downright Active Newsletter

This article first appeared in issue #15 of Down Syndrome Amongst Us


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