Join a State Council they said, it will be fun. You know
what, they were right! As a person with a disability it is sometimes easier to
say no to opportunities that are new, but I am sure glad I said yes to this
I joined the North
Dakota Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC) in May of 2014. At that
time, I was living on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and working
part-time. This was the first time in my life attending a meeting like this and
I was so afraid I would not know what to do. Who is this Robert guy with all
his “rules of order”? Do I have to talk? What if I look out of place? These
were the questions running through my mind as I went to my first meeting.
I will admit, I was completely lost after the first day.
There were so many acronyms being used that I had no idea what they were
talking about most of the meeting. I didn’t let that scare me away though and
by my third or fourth meeting that year, I felt like I was catching on to what
we were there to do.
What is the ND Statewide Independent Living Council you are
probably wondering? This council is a governor appointed council made up of
people with disabilities and the directors from our four Centers for Independent
Living in North Dakota. The mission is to lead the independent Living network
by developing resources and advocating for full community participation of
North Dakotan's with disabilities.
Now, three years later and with a lot of meetings under my
belt, I am so proud to say I am the current Chair for our Council. This has
given me the opportunity to represent our Council this year at two national
Just this past month, I attended the Association for Rural
Independent Living’s (APRIL) conference in Spokane, Washington. It is so
empowering to be able to attend a conference with people with all varieties of
disabilities in one room. This year there was over 400 people with disabilities
in attendance, including over 120 youth with disabilities at their youth conference.
This conference consisted of break-out sessions on topics
for helping people with disabilities live independent lives in our communities,
inspiring key-note speakers, and a lot of networking opportunities with other
rural centers and councils.
I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given
since joining the ND SILC and also for Independence Inc. for sponsoring me to
attend the conference in Spokane. As a person with a disability myself, there
is nothing more empowering than getting to help other people with disabilities
have the same opportunities to grow!
In addition to her
role as the current chair and Minot area representative on the SILC, Brittney
Hogan is the Executive Director of the Minot Public School Foundation. She has previously
told her #ThatsMyIL story here.