On March 5, David Grady, Regional Manager State Council on Developmental Disabilities Central Coast and long-time PRAGNYA supporter and colleague, presented an interactive workshop on self-advocacy with an engaged and enthusiastic group of young advocates from PRAGNYA. To start out, David reviewed what it means to be a self-advocate: learning how to speak up for yourself, make your own decisions about your own life, learn how to get information so that you can understand things that are of interest to you, finding out who will support you in your journey, knowing your rights and responsibilities, problem-solving, listening and learning, reaching out to others when you need help and friendship, and being a friend to others when they need your help.
David then reviewed the basic steps involved in being an effective self-advocate: know your passions and their preventions; know the issues; know the process; know the message; identify the alliances, supports, and facilitation needed to help you achieve your goal. The participants then shared examples and had a discussion about some real-life instances in which they used their advocacy skills, which ranged from speaking to school authorities about the length of the cafeteria lines at school to visiting the offices of KQED in San Francisco to voice a concern regarding television programming of a favorite show.
The presentation then turned to the different types of advocacy -- self, individual and systemic – and a discussion of what steps are required to take action, the first which is taking your passion and turning it into a project. The project can involve many different types of causes, including housing, employment, health, education, socialization, safety, transportation, quality support, financial matters, inclusion, and self-expression. The remainder of the workshop focused on how to “do the work” involved in advocating: joining boards, committees, student leadership groups and clubs, and other stakeholder groups to voice concerns and take an active role in bringing about change, and identifying allies who can support them in that work.