Recently, in the Southern Illinois region of the state, we became aware of a small group of
people who support state institutions criticizing Governor Quinn for accepting a special award
at the November Speak Up Speak Out Summit. The criticism was that the Governor was giving
himself an award.

Following is a letter from our good friend Vincent Smith regarding the Speak Up Speak Out
Award that was presented to the Governor and Amy Foster.

Nice job, Vincent & Amy!


Vincent Smith’s Letter to the Editor:

This is about people with disabilities having the freedom of choice. This is not about politics.
Politics should not be involved at all.

It was my idea to give Governor Quinn an award at the Speak Up and Speak Out 2013 Summit
in Springfield, Illinois. It was hurtful when people said the Governor made us give him the award.

He deserves an award for all that he has done for people with disabilities throughout Illinois.
There are ten people on the planning steering committee representing advocates and they
agreed. He won the award because of the good job that he has done. Transitioning is a very
good idea and the Governor helps people have choices and become part of a community. Now
people have the chance to make their own choices: go to bed when they want, work or go
wherever without asking permission. People don’t have choices in state institutions.

We all jumped up and cheered when Governor Quinn received the Outstanding Advocate Award.
There were over 520 self-advocates and there was not one person in the room sitting down. He
spoke from his heart without note cards. Everyone wanted to shake his hand or take a picture. It
took him 20 minutes to leave the room. This is the largest summit yet and it will continue to grow
because more people are moving out of institutions. People with disabilities traveled from across
the state to be together and have our voices heard. We are all success stories and want others
to experience the same.

I am so happy that we have a Governor that is favor of what is best for people with disabilities.
People with disabilities should try living in the community. There are a lot of opportunities and
ways to get involved. We don’t need state institutions or sheltered workshops.

Vincent Smith, Self-Advocate, Concerned Citizen and Member of the Speak Up and Speak Out
Steering Committee

Governor Quinn taking his time to talk to everyone at Speak Up.

Self-Advocate Amy Foster’s Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

I am a person with a disability who has lived in the state of Illinois most of my life. I am writing this
letter to let your readers know that the freedom that most people have each day most people with
disabilities do not get to experience. I want you to think about this for a moment. You yourself are
living in a state run facility and every moment of your day is planned for you; from what time you
get up to the time you go to bed. I am so thankful I get to make choices in my daily life. I just went to
the Speak Up and Speak out Summit this year and I am glad I got to go because I was able to see
how much the Rebalancing Initiative is going to improve the lives of others. The best part about this
year’s summit was getting to see the movie shown by Lester Pritchard and being able to listen to
Gov. Pat Quinn’s speech. I am so happy re balancing the system is going to save the state money.
But the most important thing about it is that people get to choose where they would like to live and
experience the many other choices each person makes each day.

Amy Foster

Amy at Speak Up!

Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)