Kristin Romero of Lumberton graduated from the Texas Partners in Policymaking Program on Saturday, April 28, 2018.
She was among the first class to graduate in Texas since 2006. During that time, Texas Partners took a 12-year sabbatical from the training, according to the news release from Texas Partners in Policymaking.
The graduation took place at the State Capital. In the news release, Ted Johnson, Project Manager, stated, “Kristin was selected and received a full scholarship, she was 1 of 30 graduates out of over 200 applicants from across the State of Texas selected to attend this prestigious advocacy program of instruction.”
The Texas Partners in Policymaking program offers “innovative and intensive advocate training for families with children with developmental disabilities and self-advocates with developmental disabilities,” states the organization’s web site.
Romero said she received a diagnosis for her son about two years ago; he was on the autism spectrum. She had some difficulty trying to put her resources together and it was a challenge to understand what all they needed to do to help their son. “It can be really overwhelming,” she said.
She began researching groups and resources which is when she came across the ARC of Greater Beaumont. They had a parent group for autistic children. It was through her participation in this group when she came across a flyer for the Texas Partners in Policymaking program.
Romero began the program in August and for nine months she drove to Austin once a month for the weekend to attend training sessions. It was over 160 hours of training, she says.
“We learned things like how to work with our lawmakers, how to advocate for our kids’ special education, learned about what services are available so we are able to effectively communicate what we need for our kids, and a general understanding of how to have an impact on anyone with a disability,” explained Romero.
Although her child’s needs were of importance to her, Romero said the biggest goal is not just what does her child need, but what does our community and state need.
“It’s been an amazing nine- month journey. Not only did I learn from the presenters, also my fellow partners. There were 29 other people engaged in the process learning with me,” she said.