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Encouraging Self-Advocacy

Sometimes representing or standing up for yourself can be difficult. Especially without proper resources or support. This difficulty can increase for individuals with disabilities.


What is Self-Advocacy?


Equip for Equality states that “Self-advocacy is the ability to speak up for yourself about the things that are important to you. Self-advocacy includes understanding your needs and strengths, learning how to get information, knowing your rights, making your own decisions about important issues affecting you, and reaching out to others for support and help when you need it.”  


Self-Advocacy skills enable independent thinking processes and the ability to voice concern or opinion. There are several different ways to engage in self-advocacy...  


Be Expressive

Don’t be afraid to speak out or address a concern. You have rights and should be acknowledged.   


EducateOften there is a lack of understanding not being communicated back to people with disabilities. Reading or staying up to date on what is important can help you better understand your goals or advocate. Try to use your library, friends, family, and other resources to stay up to date on what and how you want to achieve something.


Find Support/ Build a Team

Ask for help. Whether it be from a mentor at the facility you receive assistance, a close friend, a co-worker, or through different organizations, surround yourself with positive encouragement and assistance.  


Work with other Advocacy GroupsDo not limit yourself to only those you know. There are other support groups that have like-minded people with goals or causes similar to your own.


Set Goals Goals allow you to track your progress, check off what you’ve completed, and show your success. Start small and gradually work your way up to more challenging goals.  



It all starts with you. You are your biggest self-advocate. Though it may seem tough and may take time, you must believe in your ability to be bigger than your disability? Or your ability to succeed?  


Self-Advocacy at Marcfirst

Liz is one of the Marcfirst adult self-advocates. She suggested an art sale to support more events, activities, and supplies. Liz’s inspiration for promoting an art sale comes from her noticing a need and wanting to give back to her community. To support her cause, she asked some of her friends in the Developmental Training Program (DT) if they would create and donate artwork so all funds raised can directly support DT. Several of her peers came together and complied with one-of-a-kind paintings to be shared with the public. As of when this article was published, over $400 amount has been raised because of Liz's vision.


Liz holding one of her paintings of a Marcfirst employee’s Leader dog  


About Liz  

Liz has been at Marcfirst since 2007. Since then, she has become a self-advocate for herself and her peers. Liz has cerebral plasey (CP). According to What is CP? By the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CP is “a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. CP is the most common motor disability in childhood. Cerebral means having to do with the brain. Palsy means weakness or problems with using the muscles.”. Regardless of such conditions, Liz challenges the status quo of what it means to have a disability but creates the ability to self-define and self-advocate. Aside from self-advocacy, Liz’s favorite color is blue, she enjoys coffee club, relaxing, and playing card games with friends.


No matter who you are self-advocacy is standing up for yourself. Many forget that people with disabilities are entitled to rights as well. That is why it is important that facilities, organizations, and other means of support assist with self-advocacy for the overall improvement


Other Links Used 

What is CP? By the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Being an Effective Self-Advocate  

Equip for Equality  

Do you know the layers of self-advocacy  



Ja Tavia Stoot is a communication master's student at Illinois State University. Ja Tavia is originally from La Porte, Texas. She has a passion for health, fitness, and acts of service. 


The views expressed are Ja Tavia Stoot’s and do not necessarily represent the official views of Marcfirst. 

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