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Marcfirst Celebrates: Independence Day

Happy Independence Day! Independence is an important part of all our lives. Here at Marcfirst, we celebrate independence daily. One way our adults can advocate for independence is through our CIA Group. So, to celebrate Independence Day, we wanted to highlight the CIA and share what independence means to our friends in that program. 

The CIA is a self-advocacy group at Marcfirst. It stands for Change to Independence Altogether. The members are primarily adults with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities receiving services at Marcfirst, but membership is open to anyone. 


The group is a member of a larger self-advocacy group called the Illinois Self Advocacy Alliance. Being a part of this larger group helps by providing access to webinars, trainings, and state-wide events, like the Speak Up, Speak Out summit each Fall.


Twice a month, the CIA meets to discuss how to advocate for themselves and others and how to expand awareness in our community. In the past, that has meant talking to the Board of Directors and administration at Marcfirst and going to advocacy rallies in Springfield. The CIA has also had representatives from the group on the Marcfirst Board of Directors, involved in various Marcfirst and community committees, and on the Illinois Self Advocacy Alliance Board.


The CIA has been instrumental in implementing public speaking training for people with disabilities at Marcfirst as well as registering adults with disabilities to vote. They have also sent groups to the Speak Up, Speak Out conference, staff trainings, and local disability rights rallies. They have planned self-advocacy fairs and participated in Marcfirst’s Health and Wellness Fair. Each August, the CIA plans and implements a Disability Pride week. This year, 2021, will be the third annual Disability Pride week at Marcfirst.


Now, let’s hear about what independence means to our CIA group:

“Being independent and free, you can go places and feel safe, that I am my own guardian, that I can vote for our leaders.” - Liz 


‘I can purchase things that I want with my money, choose the things I like such as music I listen to.” - Jeremy 

"Being independent, getting a job as a reporter in news or entertainment, being able to travel, meeting new people, being able to vote.” - Josh 


“Being able to work at target, seeing my family, being able to stay home alone.” - Raphael 


"Being able to celebrate the 4th, working, seeing family, having my own apartment and doing chores on my time.” - Lisa 


"Being able to see my family, being able to see my friends, being able to watch the tv shows and movies I choose even scary ones, like choosing the snacks I want like chicken wings, go out to eat especially McDonalds and pizza hut.” - Larry 


"Coming to DT and seeing my friends, seeing movies, cleaning up after myself, going on trips without my family, choosing what I wear.” - Logan 


Staci-music, choose what I eat especially tacos, choose what I wear, exercise, 


“Seeing my family, coming to DT and seeing my staff and friends, going places like going to the zoo and out to eat.” - Michael 


"Hang[ing] out with my friends, go[ing] out and dancing, coming to DT, having a job, cleaning up, drinking my coffee on the porch at home.” - Jeff 

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