874k Coalition Rally

coalition rallyOn February 29th, the 874K Coalition held its annual rally at the Kentucky State Capitol.  The event brought advocates for people with disabilities together to have their voices heard by their state legislators.  People with disabilities are the country's largest minority group, constituting more than 20% of the American population.  In Kentucky, the rate is even higher:  23.7% of all residents in the Commonwealth over the age of five have a disability.
Before gathering in the Rotunda for the rally, consumers from Mercer County’s Anne Nooe House and Clark County’s Pioneer House met with legislators to share ideas and concerns regarding funding for behavioral health services and support.  Representative Kim King was so impressed with the group from Mercer TRP that she mentioned them in a radio interview she gave the next morning and has even requested to visit the program after the legislative session wraps up.  Other consumers from the Bluegrass Region had the opportunity to share their ideas with several Cabinet officials and legislators who dropped by the 874K hospitality room to welcome participants. 
In the Rotunda, over 250 staff and consumers from Bluegrass joined with other advocates from across the state to share the message to our legislators that “We count! We vote!  We matter!”  Dr. Sheila Schuster, Executive Director of the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition and one of the primary organizers of the rally, opened the event with a positive message from Governor Steve Beshear’s office – he has proposed sparing community mental health services from budget cuts and expanding other services, including adding substance abuse treatment through Medicaid.
Several legislators also addressed the crowd and encouraged all to continue to make our opinions and voices heard by sharing concerns with our respective Senators and Representatives.  One of the program’s featured speakers was Ms. Deborah Stidham, a consumer from the Beacon House TRP in Cynthiana.  Ms. Stidham made an outstanding presentation and we are so very proud of the job she did!



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