What is the A-TEAM?
In October of 2011, Opportunities, Inc. located in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin www.oppinc.com, invited families to unite and establish a network of support to ensure that individuals with disabilities have a full array of services to choose from in maximizing independence and employment. The initiative is called the A-TEAM and since then has expanded to many chapters around the state of Wisconsin. The growing movement has now expanded nationally as more families and advocates are empowered to VOICE their CHOICE!
Its mission is to unite persons with disabilities and their family members 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 and opportunities.
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!
Read More About the A-TEAM –
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, while the movement steadily grows across the country. There are now twelve states actively engaged in the A-Team mission as well. Each state is encouraged to create its own identity and personal connection to 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 to include employment, home and a meaningful life.
A-Teams partner with Community Rehabilitation Programs, state and national associations to receive information on the issues that impact the full array of choices for individuals with diverse abilities, as well as, technology 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. Furthermore, a comprehensive tool kit and specialized materials created in cooperation with self-advocates and family members offers chapters a consistent road map for successful implementation of teambuilding and campaigns; templates for agendas, plans, legislative events, and public relations are all included. Simple training on advocacy, sharing ones 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 taking on paid advocacy groups that have agendas and ideas exclusive and one sided. 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 efforts 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. United for Choice! United for Choice!
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”