Champions of change: Vermont’s disability rights activists

Vermont resident Max Barrows was recently at the White House to receive a “Champions for Change” award for his work to “uphold and expand the spirit of the Americans With Disabilities.” Barrows, 29, has autism and works for Green Mountain Self-Advocates (GMSA) as the Outreach Director. GMSA is a statewide self-advocacy organization in Vermont that is run and operated by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. GMSA has more than 600 members involved in 21 local self-advocacy groups. We talk with Barrows and two other GMSA members with developmental disabilities about their work, challenges and hopes.

Max Barrows, Outreach Director, Green Mountain Self-Advocates (GMSA). Barrows, a person with autism, received a Champions of Change award from the White House.

Nicole LeBlanc Advocacy Director, Green Mountain Self-Advocates. LeBlanc, a person with autism, completed a 10-week internship at the Washington Center in Washington, D.C., and earned a certificate of professional studies from the University of Vermont.

Stirling Peebles, Advocacy Educator, Green Mountain Self-Advocates. Peebles, a person with Down syndrome, has produced videos about the life histories of several leaders of the self-advocacy movement in Vermont. She has attended the “Think College” program at UVM and done internships at WCAX-Channel 3 News and ORCA Media.