The A-Team started in Wisconsin to unite persons with diverse abilities and their families to advocate in a grassroots effort, create awareness in the community, and advise those who care for our citizens with special needs to ensure a full array of service choices. In 2011, the A-Team began to coordinate stakeholders and families in a strategic effort to expand grassroots on a state and national level. Today, Wisconsin has 12 active A-Team chapters and thousands of members. The movement is also steadily growing across the country, as states actively engage in the A-Team mission. Each state is encouraged to create its own identity and personal connection with its members. Collectively, the A-Team embarks on actions that ensure the full array of options and opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The A-Team focuses on individual engagement, education and empowerment to speak and act in a unified yet authentic manner on issues that include employment, home, and a meaningful life.
A-Teams partner with Community Rehabilitation Programs, residential providers, and state and national associations to receive information on the issues that impact the full array of choices for individuals with diverse abilities. They also frequently provide technological support, administrative organization and training materials. These organizations provide guidance and logistical services that allow champions to focus on the mission. A–Team directs its own actions through consensus.
The A-Team system operates on three tiers – advocacy, awareness, and advisement to ensure sustainability of the team. One-time and disconnected actions of traditional advocacy platforms do not offer the versatility that the A-Team system offers. A comprehensive A-Team Tool Kit© and specialized materials, created in cooperation with self-advocates and family members, offers chapters a consistent road map for successful implementation of team-building and campaigns; templates for agendas, plans, legislative events, and public relations are all included. Simple training on advocacy, sharing one’s story, and growing knowledge around the issues of the day, are all accessible to A-Team champions. This organizational approach guides members in developing their confidence in respectfully expressing their needs and rights. A-Teams are inclusive. All choices matter, and all choices are important. The design is to provide stakeholders and families with a platform where their experience can be respected and recognized. The A-Team engages stakeholders and family members throughout the grassroots process, from pursuing issues that affect their lives, to developing the actions in response to them.
The A-Team is not political at its core. It is about uniting both sides of the aisle in a respectful dialogue to educate and ensure choices remain with individuals not government. It has built a solid reputation on a state and national level for cultivating personal relationships and bipartisan solutions. The A-Team activity engages champions from both parties who support the message of individual choice.
The A-TEAM has become a leader in the grassroots movement because it was founded and cultivated by stakeholders and families with passion, integrity, and commitment to making the world a better place for all. It welcomes and collaborates with like-minded organizations, associations and other advocacy groups in actions that align with its mission. Most importantly, it is led and expanded organically through the efforts of individuals with disabilities and their loved ones, with the simple message; ensure all choices that promote independence.
How to join the A-TEAM movement?
The A-TEAM has become a leader in the grassroots movement because it was founded by families with passion, integrity and commitment to making the world a better place for all. It is not constrained by formal expectations of other advocacy groups, government programs, or otherwise. Instead, it is led and expanded organically through the efforts of individuals with disabilities and their loved ones. The message is simple; ensure all choices that promote independence. United for choice!
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”