Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) Trainers
Sarah Carmany is from Kalamazoo Michigan. She is a strong self-advocate with Asperger’s syndrome. Sarah started her self-advocacy journey in 2012. Sarah is currently the Vice-Chair of the Self Advocates of Michigan and an alternate for her region on the Board for SABE. She currently sits on the Integrated Services of Kalamazoo Board and is a member of the Women’s League of Voters Kalamazoo. Sarah is also a member of the Supported Decision-Making Coalition of Michigan. She is a member of the CYVYC Knowledge Translation work group and supports the Youth Ambassador team. Watch Sarah’s story where she discusses her sense of inclusion owing to her integrated employment, supported decision-making through her circle of support and her activism.
Julian Wang, through his lived experience, is a strong advocate for those living with disabilities. He has volunteered with The Arc of Larimer County for years, serving on the Board of Directors and in leadership for People First, a self-advocacy group funded by The Arc of Larimer County. He served as President of Speaking For Ourselves, a statewide grassroots organization of people with disabilities and is a former Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center (SARTAC) fellow. Julian is passionate that technology can make life better for those who have disabilities. As times change and technology advances, people are going to have to adapt how they do things. He is a member of the CYVYC Knowledge Translation work group and a member of the Youth Ambassador team.
Melody Cooper is the past President of Self-Advocates of Indiana, a statewide advocacy organization that empowers people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), and is the Self-Advocate Specialist for The Arc of Indiana. She travels around the state educating people with disabilities about their residential and employment options. Melody has served as a poll worker in both primary and general elections since 1996. Melody, who was born with cerebral palsy, graduated from Montgomery County High School, Mount Vernon, Georgia in 1988.
Her journey from Georgia to Indianapolis to becoming an advocate for people with disabilities is featured in the short film: Advocate for Change – Melody Cooper. The film can be viewed on The Arc of Indiana’s YouTube Channel, www.youtube.com/arcadvocate, in the Pathways to Employment film series. The Arc of Indiana is the state’s leading advocacy organization for people with I/DD and their families.
Michael Thornton joined the Disability Rights Arkansas (DRA) staff in December 2020. A native of North Little Rock, Michael served as the self-advocate coordinator for DRA. Michael traveled around the state training self-advocates to speak up for themselves and to help build self-advocacy chapters. Michael is the self-advocacy faculty advisor for the Arkansas and Mississippi leadership education in neurodevelopmental and related disabilities program.
Michael serves on various boards and committees. He currently serves as President of the Disability Coalition Board and was nominated to the Community Advisory Committee of University of Arkansas – Partners for Inclusive Communities, where he has previously served as Chairperson.
Michael believes that ALL means ALL when it comes to disability inclusion and self-advocacy. We all have something to add to the conversation about self-advocacy, and we all can learn from each other.