Roll on Capitol Hill is United Spinal’s annual legislative advocacy event that addresses issues that affect the health, independence and quality of life of individuals living with spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D). Last June, over 60 wheelchair users from our member chapters across the country made more than 200 visits with legislators in Washington, D.C., to educate them on the needs of the SCI/D community and how they can better serve it. From Medicare to Medicaid to Complex Rehab and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, members provided their representatives with first person stories and testimonials and made their voices resonate throughout the Capitol.
“Attending this event was one of the most exciting opportunities I’ve ever had,” said Ohio member Kevin Weilacher. “We were there to speak for the millions of disabled people throughout the nation. To try and make a difference and make the world better and more accessible for us, I truly felt after the event was over that we made a difference.”
This June 22-25, the format will be largely the same, with some minor improvements to suit our higher aspirations. A welcoming reception Sunday evening offers attendees a chance to mingle and connect prior to Monday’s all-day educational and breakout sessions. This year, breakout sessions will be tailored to attendees’ lobbying experience, offering beginners the basics they need to succeed while helping returning pros hone their approach.
Everyone rolls to the Capitol Tuesday for visits with members of Congress before wrapping up the jam-packed day with the annual awards reception, where we honor legislators who have dedicated their careers to serving the disability community. Also new this year we are encouraging attendees to participate in the Congressional visit-scheduling process to help bolster the number of visits and further develop the relationships between members and their representatives on Capitol Hill. Wednesday morning offers a final breakfast gathering and a new recognition ceremony to award chapters and members for their advocacy efforts throughout the year.
“I am both touched and honored to have been a part of such an exciting event and know that all of us who attended ROCH 2013 will take away an experience that cannot be measured,” Georgia member Kim Harrison said of last year’s event.
As of mid-January, we are fine tuning which issues and policies to focus on this year and which legislators we will be honoring. You can stay up to date on the latest ROCH news and updates by visiting http://www.unitedspinal.org/events/roll-on-capitol-hill/. The website will also post this year’s policy issues and lots of other helpful information to empower you to get involved and effectively lobby for change.
Registration information will be e-mailed to our NSCIA member chapters in coming weeks and will also be available online. This year’s event will be held at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park. If you are interested in attending, talk with your chapter leaders. Non-members can submit their inquiries via our online help desk.
United Spinal Association