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People First: A lifetime of opportunity

by LARRY HILL III

Who am I?

Most people would say I am friendly, entertaining, reliable, independent and have a big heart, but let me tell you my story.

Larry Hill III

Larry Hill III is copresident of the Spokane Lilac Chapter and represents People First on a statewide coalition.

I was born in California and moved to Spokane in 1994 where I attended Lincoln Heights Elementary School, where because I was so friendly, I made good friends and had good opportunities. I went to high school at Lewis-Clark, and after graduating from there, I attended the transition classes at Spokane Community College called Images.

While attending Images in 2009, I met Craig Sicilia. He changed my life with the People First Club/Student First club. He taught me what speaking up for myself really meant — I’m in charge of myself, no one can take the dignity away from me. This is what taught me to be a reliable person. I was elected as president of the People First club, and because of this, it has given me new opportunities over the years.

The People First/Student First club was originally called the Self-advocates in Motion Club (SAM).

The SAM club had an advisory group that I was a part of and was its president for a time. We met in Seattle and shared ideas of how we could build the project in the future. This was when I began representing People First of Washington at statewide meetings.

I have been a Student First trainer for Spokane since 2009 teaching high school and transition students about leadership, team building, disability awareness, self-advocacy and communication.

We do exercises and activities with the students and let them know that there are no right or wrong answers —they just need to speak up for themselves.

I work along with four other people in mentoring the clubs. We have seven active groups in Spokane and are working on getting one more involved. We are all paid staff members of People First of Washington. I really like to work and have other jobs as well. Right now I am preparing for umpiring baseball games in Spokane.

What People First means to me

It has given me dignity, courage, respect, honor, pride and success.

I am copresident of the Spokane Lilac Chapter and represent People First on a statewide coalition called Allies in Advocacy. I also get a chance to use some of my other skills as the media/photographer for People First. I make videos of the convention each year and put music to them for the members’ enjoyment. I also DJ at some of the convention dances, and I am the emcee at the Eastern Washington mini conference.

It has been a hard year because some of our members have passed away, but we will keep going. They will never be forgotten, they’ll be in our hearts forever. They’ll always be a part of our family. Our chapter is working on hosting this year’s statewide People First convention in Spokane along with our other Valley Chapter.

What is important to me is having compassion and a strong work ethic — it’s really important to have a job. You need to find what you know what works for you and have courage to go for it. It’s important to have a full life — I have good friends because of People First, I belong to the gaming club at Spokane Community College, and I really enjoy attending anime conventions around the state.

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