The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society
8 E 41st Street, 8th Floor
New York New York 10017
800-221-4602
[email protected] 

Buddy Walk® on Washington FAQs

Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Buddy Walk® on Washington.

WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT DEADLINES?

The registration deadline for the 2017 Buddy Walk® on Washington is Monday, March 27, 2017.

The deadline for getting the group rate at the overflow hotel is 5:00 PM Eastern Time on Wednesday, March 17, 2017. See this webpage for hotel information

IS THERE AN ACTUAL WALK INVOLVED? IF NOT, WHY IS IT CALLED A BUDDY WALK® ON WASHINGTON?

The Buddy Walk® on Washington does not include a walk or festival-like activities that may occur at your local Buddy Walk®. The Buddy Walk® on Washington is a two-day conference that involves a day of advocacy training and networking followed by a day of visits with Members of Congress and/or their staff on Capitol Hill. The Buddy Walk® on Washington was given its name to maintain the message of the National Buddy Walk® Program - to raise awareness and inclusion for people with Down syndrome. The funds raised by the National Buddy Walk® Program directly support the annual Buddy Walk® on Washington and the work that NDSS does in Washington, DC. 

To get a better idea of what the Buddy Walk® on Washington involves, click here to view and listen to a 20-minute webinar recording provided by two participants in the NDSS DS-AMBASSADOR® Program, Sherri Harnisch from Nebraska and Self-Advocate David Egan from Virginia. In the webinar regarding, Sherri and David share pictures and discuss their experiences attending the Buddy Walk® on Washington. 

IS IT POSSIBLE TO ATTEND THE NDSS employment conference and the BUDDY WALK® ON WASHINGTON?  

Yes and we encourage you to do so! The first annual NDSS #DSWORKS™ Employment Conference will be held on Monday, April 3, 2017, starting at 1:00 PM at the Westin Arlington Gateway hotel, and the Buddy Walk® on Washington will be held on April 4 and 5, 2017, also at the Westin Arlington Gateway and on Capitol Hill.

The registration fee for the Buddy Walk® on Washington is $50 for those age 6 and over (ages 5 and under are free) and the registration fee for the Employment Conference is $30. Those who register for both the #DSWORKS™ Employment Conference and the Buddy Walk® on Washington may receive a $10 discount; upon registering for either conference, registrants will receive a confirmation email that contains an offer code to use when registering for the other conference to save $10 per person.

WILL THERE BE HELP WITH ARRANGING MEETINGS ON CAPITOL HILL? 

Yes! NDSS works with Soapbox Consulting to schedule meetings with Members of Congress for all those who attend the Buddy Walk® on Washington. To enable Soapbox to arrange meetings with your Members of Congress, you must provide your home address when you register. Soapbox will send you your customized meeting schedule in the afternoon on Friday, March 31, 2017. Participants will attend meetings with others from their legislative districts or states. Meetings will be scheduled between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM on April 5. We encourage participants to schedule their flights as late as possible in the day on April 5 to allow time for possible late afternoon meetings.

WILL THERE BE TRAINING ON HOW TO BEST APPROACH AND MEET WITH ELECTED OFFICIALS?

Absolutely! Everyone that registers to attend the Buddy Walk® on Washington will receive additional information and resources (including a webinar presentation to attend in March 2017) that will prepare you to attend meetings and fully experience Capitol Hill. The first day of the conference includes training and preparation for the visits to Capitol Hill planned for the second day.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO ATTEND? ARE THERE SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE?

The registration fee for the Buddy Walk® on Washington is $50 per person (for anyone age 6 and up including individuals with Down syndrome). Children age 5 and under are free. The $50 fee covers: 

  • Training via webinar before the Buddy Walk® on Washington
  • State and federal advocacy training on April 4
  • Written materials to prepare for the meetings on Capitol Hill and materials to leave with Members of Congress
  • Lunch, snacks and admission to evening dessert reception and dance on April 4 
  • Continental breakfast at Westin Arlington Gateway and awards luncheon on Capitol Hill on April 5

Beyond this, you will need to factor in travel costs, additional meals and hotel accommodations. (See this webpage for hotel information.)

If cost is prohibitive, please contact [email protected].  

WHO SHOULD ATTEND THIS CONFERENCE? DO I NEED TO HAVE ADVOCACY EXPERIENCE? SHOULD I BRING MY CHILDREN?

Whether you are new to advocacy and aren't sure who your elected representatives are or you are a seasoned advocate, if you are interested in advocating for people with Down syndrome, you are encouraged to attend - and we're sure you'll have an amazing experience. The Buddy Walk® on Washington is educational, informative and empowering. 

If your children have the stamina and patience for meetings on Capitol Hill, they are generally warmly received by Members of Congress and their staff. Some families do bring their children, but many advocates opt to attend without them. However, please note that NDSS is unable to provide child care. 

SHOULD SELF-ADVOCATES ATTEND?

Yes! Self-advocates (individuals with Down syndrome) are highly encouraged to participate in the Buddy Walk® on Washington! It is wonderful for Members of Congress and their staff to have the opportunity to interact directly with self-advocates and their families, and it is empowering for self-advocates to directly participate in the process of urging policy change to improve their lives.

Self-advocates will be briefed on the legislative issues and are invited to participate in all webinars and training sessions. Also, on the first day of the conference, self-advocates who are age 16 and older are invited to join the NDSS Self-Advocate Advisory Board (SAAB) for the Self-Advocates Speak Out Lunch and Panel Discussion. The Board will share their expertise as seasoned self-advocates in this presentation for self-advocates, by self-advocates. This event is for self-advocates only. For more information about the luncheon, please contact Colleen Hatcher at [email protected].

In addition, each self-advocate who attends the Buddy Walk® on Washington should prepare a brief one-page bio to be left at all your congressional visits, so bring at least five copies. Bios should include a photo, contact information, a few sentences about yourself (where you work, go to school, interests), why you have come to the Buddy Walk® on Washington, how current legislation will impact you and your family and request for Members of Congress to co-sponsor this legislation. Here are three sample bios:

Preparing a bio is a great way to leave an impression - even on people you don’t meet in person. 

WHAT IS THE DRESS CODE FOR THE BUDDY WALK® ON WASHINGTON?

Casual to business casual is appropriate during the first day of the Buddy Walk® on Washington, which involves advocacy training and the evening social at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel. Some people may choose to dress up for the evening social. Professional attire is strongly recommended for meetings on Capitol Hill on the second day of the conference. You will do a lot of walking on Capitol Hill so please bring comfortable shoes! 

HOW WILL I GET FROM THE HOTEL TO CAPITOL HILL ON APRIL 5?

The Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel is in Arlington, Virginia. Participants may purchase a one-way bus ticket for $10 per person to go from the Westin Arlington Gateway to the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, on April 5, 2017. There will be two buses departing the hotel at approximately 7:00 AM and arriving in time for a photograph on the steps of the US House of Representatives at 8:00 AM. The bus will drop off at Garfield Circle on the west side of the US Capitol Building and it is a 5-10 minute walk uphill to the east side of the US House of Representatives where the group photo will be taken. Bus seats are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The $10 ticket fee is nonrefundable. The bus will take participants one way to the US Capitol Building, and participants will need to arrange their own transportation back to the hotel or elsewhere after their meetings on Capitol Hill.    

Alternatively, participants may take a taxi/Uber/Lyft to Capitol Hill at their own expense (30 - 60 minutes depending on traffic) or take the Metro (subway train). The Ballston Metro Station is .3 miles from the Westin and a Metro train takes about 30 minutes from the Ballston Metro Station to the Capitol South Metro Station. The US Capitol is .3 miles from the Capitol South Metro Station. Participants will go to meetings in groups (typically with others from the same legislative district or state), and NDSS staff will be available to guide participants and answer questions.

WHERE CAN I STORE MY LUGGAGE WHILE ATTENDING MEETINGS ON CAPITOL HILL ON APRIL 5? 

Participants may store luggage at their hotel while on Capitol Hill on April 5, 2017.  

WILL THE BUDDY WALK® ON WASHINGTON COVER STATE ADVOCACY IN ADDITION TO FEDERAL ADVOCACY?

Yes. Training on state advocacy will be provided in the morning on April 4, 2017. The state advocacy training is optional but highly beneficial for advocates who also want to make a difference on the state level. Federal advocacy training will be provided during the afternoon on April 4, 2017. 

WILL THEIR BE OPPORTUNITIES FOR NETWORKING AND SOCIALIZATION?

Yes! One of the best parts of the Buddy Walk® on Washington is having the opportunity to meet, share and learn from other advocates and families from across the country.

HOW DO I REGISTER FOR THE BUDDY WALK® ON WASHINGTON?  

Registration is now closed for the 2017 Buddy Walk® on Washington. 

Please remember to provide the home addresses of every participant, so that we may schedule meetings with the appropriate Members of Congress. The registration deadline is March 27, 2017. 

MORE QUESTIONS?

For more information, please contact [email protected]

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