Download this National Kids As Self Advocates Document (pdf: 184K | doc: 98K)

An Advocate Is

Self-Advocate: Making sure you are able to get, or access, what you need. Being a self-advocate is fighting for what you as an individual need to go to school, work, live at home or to have access to healthcare. It means knowing what you need and then asking for that support. This may also mean thinking ahead to guess what problems you may have in the future, so you can act and prepare now.

For example: You want to go to a meeting, but you find out itís held in an upstairs room with no elevator. NEED: You need a meeting to be located in a place that is accessible. ACTION [BEING A SELF-ADVOCATE]: You call those who are organizing the meeting and make a request [ask them] to have the meeting in an accessible place. You also, in a letter, educate and explain to them about what an accessible space means, [like not having any stairs, wide enough doorways, and access to a restroom that is wheelchair accessible]. Acting as a self-advocate can be done in many ways:

Community Advocate: A community advocate is someone who tries to make change for a community. They listen and learn from others in the community about issues and problems that they all share. They then try to create changes in society to help the whole community.

For example: NEED: You and others in the disability community want people with disabilities to have jobs with individual supports and to not have the only option be working in a sheltered workshop. ACTION: You all decide to talk to local agencies to ask them to find money for and to train job coaches. You also write letters to the newspapers and local law makers about the issue and ask for support. You all make a presentation at the city chamber of commerce [where local business leaders meet] and ask them to write a letter of support about people with disabilities working in regular jobs to the mayor. You all go to a mayor and council meeting and ask them to not fund [give money to] sheltered workshops, to instead fund job coaches and job training for people with disabilities.

Acting as a Community Advocate can be done in many different ways:

Accommodation - something to make learning easier
Anticipate - thinking about what might happen
Right - what the law says you should get
Rehearse - doing it over and over
Responsibility - what you are supposed to do
Compromise - "giving in" a little to make a "deal"
Support - someone to help you