ONI Main: 503-823-4519
City/County Info: 503-823-4000
1221 SW 4th Ave, Suite 110, Portland, OR 97204
City Council thanked graduates from the Office of Community & Civic Life’s Disability Power PDX program for their leadership
“In the Disability Power PDX room, we had hope,” Mohammad Usrof said in front of City Council on June 20. “We still have hope, and we are going to continue holding onto it.”
Mohammad is a graduate of Disability Power PDX, a leadership development program sponsored by the Office of Community & Civic Life’s Disability Program.
“This program gives underrepresented people a voice,” he said.
The Office of Community & Civic Life, formerly known as the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, offers Disability Power PDX to people with disabilities who wish to affect public policy and become more engaged in Portland communities.
“We recognize that we are one city with many communities interwoven together,” Director Suk Rhee said. “We believe in weaving these distinct perspectives together to inform local decision-making, and in providing opportunities for Portlanders to contribute their knowledge, experience and creativity to address concerns for all our community members.”
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly introduced the graduate-authored Disability Power PDX 2018 report to the Council. In the report, participants wrote reflections about their experiences in the program. A panel of four Disability Power PDX 2018 graduates shared their learning outcomes and their appreciation for Council support.
Sixteen participants were chosen to join the 2018 program. Throughout eight sessions, members participate in a series of workshops, individual learning opportunities, and meetings with local organizations to increase their knowledge of local engagement opportunities and ability to effectively engage in Portland civic life.
Mohammed said sharing experiences within the group allowed members to build a broader and more nuanced understanding of various disability experiences. The group brought a wide range of understandings around disability, culture, race, age, and other identity experiences.
Participants applied their own personal experiences as people with disabilities in discussions on disability identity and culture, learning how to access community resources, and navigating local and national government.
Graduates say they’ll continue with active engagement in their local and regional policy, as well as advocating for themselves in their daily life.
Dean McCrary, one of the graduates, will be producing a documentary on accessibility issues for people with disabilities when trying to travel around the City.
Alyson Osborn, another graduate, plans to continue work with the Portland Police Bureau to ensure that police are held accountable for their interactions with community members with disabilities. She writes: “Disability Power PDX has been instrumental in helping me fine-tune my goals and motivate me to work toward achieving them. Being part of this group inspired and empowered me.”
Mayor Wheeler told Alyson that he would like to meet with her to discuss best practices for Portland Police to learn how to de-escalate any potential conflicts that could arise between officers and community members with disabilities.
Joanne Johnson, the program coordinator, said that the support that City Commissioners and Mayor Wheeler have given to the program brings her hope.
“This could not have been done without community,” Joanne said.
“This is the beginning,” said Luam Yohannes at the closing of their City Council presentation. “We can make it better for different people with different disabilities.”
Interested in learning more about Disability Power PDX? Click here to visit the Disability program website. For more updates on the City of Portland Disability Program, like their Facebook page or sign up for Disability News updates.
Example of our programs serving as a connection point for community.