The 9th Annual
WALK-A-MILE IN MY SHOES
On May 8th, the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards hosted the 9th annual Walk-A-Mile in My Shoes Rally. The Baraga County RICC has proudly represented our area and the UP every year. This year the highlight of our visit was to meet with Scott Dianda, our District Representative in the Michigan House.
ABOVE, LEFT TO RIGHT: Hannah Misegan, Elaine Dube, Representative Scott Dianda, Mick Sheridan, Janel LaPlante, Lola Mariacher
We shared with Representative Dianda that our message was to advocate for the Medicaid expansion in Michigan. We were very thankful that he took time out from his busy schedule to meet us at the rally. He indicated his support for the expansion.
As is always the case at the rally, consumer representatives from each county delivered a statement about mental health issues from the steps of the Capitol building. Several thousand advocates attended this year and the group was blessed with very pleasant weather. And again this year, a prime message at the rally was to end stigma and increase understanding of people with disabilities and mental illness. The power, the energy and the strong sense of solidarity created by many souls speaking with a common voice permeated the event.
Five of us from the Baraga County RICC attended the rally this year as well as several members from the Ontonagon RICC. In addition to the speakers, music and the statements from county representatives, attendees also signed a large map of the state in the geographic area they represent. The Baraga and Ontonagon RICCs put the UP on the map again this year.
ABOUT THE RICC
The Baraga County Regional Inclusive Community Coalition is an organization founded to advance the interests of people in Baraga County with Developmental Disabilities. All of the officers and the majority of the members are people with disabilities. Membership is also open to community members and others interested in making life better for people with disabilities who live in Baraga County. Some transportation provided by Copper Country Mental Health staff is available to people with disabilities, however this is limited. The RICC members support each other in an atmosphere of respect and kindness.
Members work to identify barriers to a fuller life in our community. The organization is committed to systems change in ways that will make life better for people with disabilities in Baraga County. The group has been very active around issues related to voting rights and education, transportation, self-determination and independent facilitation. Recently the Baraga County RICC has identified housing issues for people with disabilities as the newest advocacy issue of interest for members.
The RICC sponsors outreach events every year to engage people with disabilities and share support. Typically the RICC will host a Christmas Oureach event and a summer picnic. The organization has benefited from great community support over the years. For 2 years, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community has donated funds for the Christmas event and the L’Anse Knights of Columbus has assisted with funding both the summer picnic and the holiday event.
The group is supported by an annual grant that is awarded specifically to accomplish a list of activities and outcomes that are part of an annual work plan. The Baraga County RICC is supported by Grant # 20131835 from the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council, awarded pursuant to P.L. 106-402 as amended, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, through the Michigan Department of Community Health, the Council’s state designated administering agency.