Montana Empowerment Center, Inc (MEC) is a public non-profit organization committed to improving the lives and education of children with disabilities from ages 0-26. MEC was founded in 2018 by parents of children with disabilities, professionals and educators in Montana who saw a need to put family relationships first in order for families with children with disabilities to have support and access to necessary resources.
JW, a 7th grade girl with a traumatic brain injury was the inspiration for the name of the MEC. During her 7th grade school year, JW was bullied by her peers. Due to JW’s medically fragile state, a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment was unattainable. She enjoyed school and actively wanted to participate in school. JW and her family, along with the Montana PTI, successfully advocated for her needs by being a voice at the table. Sitting at the table expressing her needs, made the process more impactful for JW and all of those involved. JW came up with the name Empowerment to continue supporting children and young adults with disabilities to advocate for themselves.
MEC affirms the rights of all individuals, from all backgrounds and diverse cultures, with or without disabilities, to an appropriate education and other needed services. MEC seeks to make those rights a reality by providing information, education, outreach, and support to and for families, children and the professionals who educate and serve them across the state of Montana. This includes all families who may be underserved because of low-income, limited English language proficiency, disabling conditions, incarceration, etc. and including those that may be incarcerated, placed in institutions, excluded from school, homeless, in foster care, placed out of state, have limited English language proficiency, and are transient. MEC believes that, given information and support, individuals with disabilities and their families will feel empowered to advocate for themselves and participate fully in education and community opportunities.
The proposed project will address the absolute priorities:
- to increase parents’ capacity to help their children with disabilities improve their early learning, school-aged, and postsecondary outcomes;
- and to increase youth with disabilities’ capacity to be effective self-advocates.