Partners in Policymaking, a national leadership training program for individuals with developmental disabilities and parents of young children with developmental disabilities, is coordinated in Louisiana through the state Developmental Disabilities Council.

By providing the most up-to-date knowledge on disability issues and best practices, PIP helps build associations among the people requiring and/or using services and those who make public policy and laws at the local, state and national levels, hence, “partnering” to advance the goals of individuals with disabilities.

PIP is a six-month commitment for the applicants. Once accepted into PIP training, individuals must agree to attend monthly weekend sessions for six months — January through June — in Baton Rouge and to complete assignments during the training. Each overnight session will begin at noon Friday and end at 3 p.m. Saturday. Lodging and meals during the session are provided. Reimbursement for respite care and attendant service is available for qualifying participants.

On June 7, the 15 members of the 2014 class became the 24th graduating class of the Louisiana Partners in Policymaking program. Local members of the class are Christy Paulsell, of Mandeville; Michelle Going, of Slidell; Shanee Holmes, of Metairie; Deborah Hampton, of Hammond; Jill Hano, of River Ridge; and Ashley Bourg, of Marrero. These individuals were honored for developing the skills necessary for effective advocacy to help influence public policy at all levels of government.

Applications are being accepted for the 2015 class. Nationally recognized experts will give presentations on the following topics:

January: history, philosophy and values

February: assistive technology and inclusive education

March: legislative process

April: supported employment, supported living and community building

May: community organizing and system change advocacy

June: boards and commissions.

For more information about the program and application process, contact Robbie Gray, DD Council program monitor, at (225) 342-6804, (800) 450-8108 or robbie.gray@la.gov, or check the website at www.laddc.org.

The deadline for applications for the 2015 class is Sept. 30. Selection of participants will be made by Nov. 15.

The LaDDC is surveying past graduates to learn what advocacy activities they have participated in. Contact Liz Gary, of Mandeville, PIP coordinator, at the 800 number above or by email at partners _coordinator@charter.net to give her an update.

Jane Pic Adams writes about issues of interest to individuals with disabilities and their families. Contact her at jpa.article@gmail.com.