The trip to the Worcester City Hall was a day like no other, where Self-Advocacy and Human Rights met hand in hand. It all started with a cordial invitation from the office of Human Rights and Disabilities, to go to the Worcester City Hall and be educated on civic duties, local government and local history. The group was given the opportunity to engage in a Mock City Council meeting and a guided tour of the City Hall including the Mayor’s office. In the Mayor’s office, the group observed photos of the Mayor with President Clinton, President Obama and were even given the key to the city to pass around and get a closer look. In the duration of the trip, the group was introduced to several city officials.
During the Mock City Council meeting, the group was invited to sit in as council men and women and were educated on the process of Council meetings. As they conducted their own meeting, they were given the chance to voice their opinions and vote on topics based on issues that would affect the citizens of the city. This sparked a special interest because any citizen, despite their physical or mental abilities, has the right to request a policy to be addressed and implemented. When such policies are passed it is then the Mayor who is tasked with the implementation. These policies are always most important when presented in the form of a community need.
At The Arc of Opportunity, the main goal across the board is to gain meaningful inclusion in the community. As the group participated in the Mock City Council meeting they learned that the most powerful inclusion is that of engaging in their civic duty. Also, knowing that they have access to their city government is an essential way of having their voices heard and their needs met. No matter what city you live in, it is important to know that the opportunity exists to access your local government and make things happen. That knowledge is the strongest form of encouragement.
As we wrapped up the trip some of the participants were asked what their favorite part of the trip was. Some said that seeing the Mayor’s office was great, others said that the beautiful things in the building were nice to see, but the unanimously favorite part was sitting in a City Council member’s seat and using a mic to voice their opinions!