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Advocate Profile: Mike Thornton

Selfie of Mike, wearing aviators with the Washington Monument and the sun setting behind him
Selfie of Mike, wearing aviators with the Washington Monument and the sun setting behind him

D: What is your favorite way to pass time? M: Reading

D :What is something people generally don’t know about you? M: I’ like to sometimes write poetry - although not as often as I would like to do.

D: Who is Mike?

M: I usually introduce myself first as a Self-advocate who advocates for myself and others., Also, I encourage others to find their voice and speak up.

D: What gets your fired up about the disability movement? M: The rights of people with disabilities to live in the community, to work, to marry without being penalized under SSDI Marriage penalty tax, and to be accepted as people who matter.

D: What is your advocacy platform? M: Currently it is the Disability Integration Act - which will do away with the bias towards nursing homes and give freedom of choice for people to live in their own homes and receive the same supports and services at a much lower cost than it would be in the Nursing Homes.

D: What barriers or challenges do you face in this movement? M: I see some non-unity among certain groups. Yes, we may each have our own plans, but we all have something that unifies us and that is the rights of people with disabilities. We can unite together to be stronger or we can be in our own little circles and not get as much done.

D: What do you want those who do not identify with disability to know? M: Don’t just be aware... Accept people with disabilities as people.

D: What areas are you still growing/hope to grow? Personally? Professionally? M: Being a leader to others that are coming behind me in advocacy and learning more from those who are ahead of me.

D: Who was the person/role model who inspired you to look into disability advocacy? Why/how did they inspire you? M: Julie Petty, who is formerly the chairperson of the President’s Committee of People with Intellectual Disabilities. She’s an encourager and listens to what people say to her.

D: When people look at you/up to you, what do you hope they see? M: An encouraging word from a friend and someone who just listens when people need to just say what is on their heart.

D: What are your next steps? M: I am Faculty Advisor for Self-Advocacy for the Arkansas program of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disorders (LEND) which is a program that helps train leaders in Developmental Disabilities research. The program is unique in that it includes Family and Self-Advocates along with the Medical Trainees. Also, as a writer, I plan to try writing more about myself and other people with disabilities in a positive way that shows what they can do.

D: How do we follow you?! Twitter - @Mikethornton71

Instagram - @Mikethornton71

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