In 1986 in the state of Minnesota, United States of America,
Colleen Wieck noticed a remarkable thing about the way public
policy worked for self-advocates, parents and relatives of disabled
people. Important policies and practices were being developed for
them and about them, whilst these people were largely absent from
the policymaking process.
Colleen believed that this was because people were not offered
the knowledge, skills, tools and networks to enable them to play a
full part in the policymaking process. She believed that something
could and should be done about this.
The result was the development of a leadership training course
called Partners in Policymaking by Colleen Wieck Ph.D., Director of
the Minnesota Governors Planning Council of Development
Disabilities, and Ed Skarnulius Ph.D., of the Minnesota Department
of Human Services.
The World Institute on Disability adopted the Partners in
Policymaking programme in recognition of its potential as a model
for leadership training for parents of disabled children and
disabled adults. It soon became a rapid growing movement
and graduates from the course soon became a driving force in the
policy making processes in the United States.
In 1996 Lynne Elwell, Chris Gathercole and Paul Taylor adapted
Partners in Policymaking for the UK and the first course was run in
Oldham in the North West. Before this, the training that was
available in the UK was designed for service workers. Sometimes
parents would be invited, but it was hard to understand the
language and how the systems worked.
Over time, Partners in Policymaking Courses developed and
expanded ad now run in most areas of the UK. Outside of England
courses have also run in Scotland, Ireland, Holland and Portugal.
All the courses are coordinated and run by family members.