“If you want to be heard, speak up,” said self-advocate, Karen. “You’re your own advocate. Don’t be afraid.” Great advice from a self-described former wall-flower.
Karen was one of more than 10 advocates who spoke at Summit DD’s Advocacy Day event on March 3. The local advocacy event mirrored the State Advocacy Day that kicked off National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.
Self-Advocates from Summit DD’s Speak Up Club (a club devoted to teaching and practicing self-advocacy) used this opportunity to talk about what self-advocacy means to them, in their own words. They also gave examples of experiences, in their own lives, when self-advocacy helped them achieve goals and talked about why it’s important to speak up for what you want in life.
In Their Own Words
Here were some of the highlights from a few of the speakers:
- Jayda explained self-advocacy as “a way to get what you want, and know your rights.”
- “I’m learning to be a better person through self-advocacy and not bottling it all up inside,” said Amanda about her burgeoning self-advocacy skills.
- Erin talked about a difficult situation that she found herself in, but was able to get a quick resolution through her Service and Support Coordinator (SSA). “If I have a problem, I can go to my service coordinator or the staff at work,” she said.
- Leigh talked about the importance of support along the way. “I try to fix it for myself, but I just need a little help from my SSA.”
- Nancy explained a situation where her self-advocacy experience had been put to good use to give a tour of Summit DD’s Cuyahoga Falls center to visitors. “I got these nice thank you notes,” she said. “Because I did such a great job!”
- “It gives me self-confidence in my daily life,” proclaimed John about his self-advocacy journey.
- Pam recommended that others should spread the word about the Speak Up club. “Tell people how the program has helped and benefited you!”
The Akron Beacon Journal was there to cover the event as well. In case you missed it, check out the great article they published about the Advocacy Day event and the insightful speakers who made it such a success.
This March, join us in celebrating people of all abilities during National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and ask yourself if you are doing all you can to make your communities welcoming for all.
Here are some additional ideas to get involved:
- Facebook photo contest
- Parent Mentor Discussion
- FREE RePlay for Kids Workshop
- Dream Out Loud Art Show Reception