People who have self-advocacy skills can take greater control over their lives and be more active in their community. These skills are developed by learning from other advocates. Self-advocates with developmental disabilities (DD) can provide insight into advocacy barriers and opportunities, be role models, and teach parents and professionals about self-advocacy and self-determination. They can share knowledge, influence thinking, and inspire others by presenting and serving as conference facilitators. Many organizations don’t have funds to pay speakers or reimburse expenses, which limits their available pool of participants. People with DD may not have financial resources to attend events.
Support and promote a diverse pool of self-advocates who can serve as presenters, facilitators, or mentors at conferences and training events. Recruit, train and support at least 50 self-advocates from diverse backgrounds to make presentations at local and statewide events.
Through Project SPEAK (Sharing Personal Experience & Knowledge), self-advocates gave presentations at a variety of venues on issues they selected which were important to them and that impact people with DD. Imagine Enterprises reached out to diverse communities to recruit 50 individuals to learn public speaking skills. A relationship was built with local Toastmaster groups for SPEAK staff to learn about public speaking and community supports.
Training materials were developed for a three-day workshop intended to reach a diverse audience with a variety of training and support needs. Participants received training in the creation of biographies, promotion of engagements, and public speaking. Staff also provided follow-up support.
Project SPEAK saw transformations in the confidence levels of some participants, including a feeling of purpose in being able to deliver their message. Additionally, some participants continue to advocate for their selected causes. SPEAK is popular with school districts seeking a tool to increase the opportunity for students to learn self-advocacy and self-determination skills. There is no specific curriculum that limits instruction to a particular topic; this exercises the opportunity to structure a student’s speech on something that is important to them.
- Recruited 50 individuals in 12 local teams who learned public speaking skills
- Developed a three-day training workshop
- A relationship was established with local Toastmaster groups where staff learned about the process of public speaking and the potential for new supports in the community
- Families witnessed their child growing in their self-confidence and knowledge
- SPEAK is popular with school districts seeking a tool to increase the opportunity for students to learn self-advocacy and self-determination skills