The Ways Belonging To A Self-Advocacy Group Makes A Difference In Your Life
By Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered
In the fall of 2011, Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered collaborated with seven self-advocacy organizations to run focus forums with 10 to 30 peer leaders with developmental disabilities. Here are their responses:
People First of Alabama:
- It has given me freedom to be what I want to be.
- Inspiring me to pursue the jobs I want to.
- Given me my own identity and the confidence to challenge those who disagree.
People First of Arizona:
- Self advocacy has made a difference in my life because I have been able to show people that I am not just a person in a wheelchair with a disability but I have a voice and a voice that counts.
- I have really tried to increasingly speak up for myself and make sure I am heard. It has made a difference because I now realize more than ever that my voice counts.
- I have freedom to do what I want.
- I’m not afraid to stand up
- I spoke to legislators
- Learn a lot about different things, fight for myself and talked to others
- I learn that we are somebody and to be a speaker and leader fighting for others and taking classes
- I was shy and quiet and then I started asking questions about the system and services I receive.
- I started my own business and talked about self-advocacy around the country
- Got my own house and have pets because I could not have any in provider group homes
- Asked for accommodations at work
People First of Georgia:
- Created opportunities
- Helped me figure out a way to get out of my parent’s house
- Helped me learn about things in the community
- Taught me how to use public transportation
- Got me involved in MARTA mobility training
- Turned me into the hellion I am now!
- Got me to advocate for successful sidewalk repairs
- Created a job for me
- Taught me how to communicate with other people
- Helped me open VR’s eyes to possibilities
- Helped me take control of my money and my life
- Helped me to live a self-determined life
- Created friendships
- Helped me build independent living skills
- Got People First involved in major initiatives
- Made me more outgoing
Green Mountain Self-Advocates
- I feel better about myself. I make better decisions.
- We help each other. We make things better for others in the community
- We are educating others about disability
- Knowing about myself, my body, knowing how to protect myself.
- I am developing my own skills & helping others.
- I didn’t have a life before, was very isolated.
- I have plans for the future
- I know myself better. I respect myself more because we give each other respect.
- I know how to speak up for disability rights and services.
- It helps me speak my mind and tell it like it is. Before I would go to meetings about my kids with DCF and not say anything.
- Feel good about having the skills to make responsible choices.
- We change things by going to meetings and the statehouse: Walk With Your Class Bill, reducing the use of restraint and seclusion in schools, Respectful Language Bill, increase funding for services, and making a difference through our local community activities and volunteer work.
- Key personal goals achieved or in progress often mentioned were more independent housing (with supports), jobs, sports, recreation and a social life, college, taking care of my health.
Montana Youth Opening Doors Through Advocacy
- The Neuro-Networking Club is all about autism awareness for those with Autism and Asperger Syndrome. We are all about autism and altruism. Like we rake someone’s yard or pick up trash. Autism advocacy is cool because it helps me relate with others like me.
- I would be stuck in Eureka, MT with nothing to do and bored to death! It allowed me to go to college, get a job, and do pretty good at my job and enjoy my job and have a social life, have friends. It really allowed me to be the person that I want to be. Without my advocacy skills and my mom and dad and brother I wouldn’t be where I am today I am just lucky to be able to have a job.
- Without the Neuro-Networking Club or leaning about my condition I wouldn’t be where I am now. I was also recently diagnosed with depression. Self-advocacy has allowed me to go beyond my barriers and have fun! Something I kind of understood but I just took the grasp of it now. That is one reason I like it. And of course it is awesome too being able to be myself! To be myself and not worry about what you can’t do.
Our Voices Count, Too Self-Advocacy Council of South Carolina
- Self Advocacy has made a difference in my life because it has made me more responsible. I feel alive, I feel good, and I feel like a real person.
- When stuff is bothering me, it gives me an outlet. I learn to speak out so that I don’t keep everything in. I express myself.
- I learned how to take on responsibility. Most of all I have learned how to save money for the right stuff.
- I have learned how to be confident with me.
- It has changed my life because I have learned about how I can be a better person.
Self Advocates in Leadership (SAIL) of Washington
- SAIL is like a family to me. I fought to stay out of a group home.
- Giving my own voice to say what I wanted to lawmakers and the people in the community like the city council and to help other people.
- I talked about Independent Living and the budget with my Senator.
- I made a huge difference talking to government people. I used my voice in high areas.
- I was a tutor and I got on the board of SABE.