People with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) have the right to be supported to act as self-advocates. This means they have a say in decision-making in all areas of their daily lives and in public policy decisions that affect them.
At The Arc Westchester, we are guided by the motto, “Nothing about us, without us.” This simple phrase is the foundation for all of our work to support our self-advocates. The people we serve should be involved in all the decisions and discussions about them.
On February 19th, we had over 60 self-advocates and staff visit our Hawthorne headquarters from the various day programs that The Arc Westchester provides.
We were joined by:
- Jankus, Coordinator of Cognitive and Person-Centered Supports
- Lolli Ross, Assistant Executive Director, Quality Improvement and Staff Development
- Sandy Mislow, Regional Coordinator, Self-Advocacy Association of NYS (SANYS)
- Erica Martinez, Self-advocate and Speaker from the SANYS organization
- Tania Wilcher, Care Manager, Care Design Hudson Valley
Topics included the importance of speaking up for oneself and then joining their collective voices together on important issues that have a common impact on all of them. The #bFair2DirectCare Campaign is a good example of joint advocacy, as it tries to make sure that direct support professionals receive a living wage at The Arc Westchester and across New York State. Erica, in particular, had a tremendous impact on our attendees, telling her story about her move from a group home to her own apartment as a result of participation in OPWDD’s Self-Direction initiative.
Self-advocacy is one of the most important ways to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities have choices in their services and direct their own lives. Our hope is that this and future meetings will help to strengthen and further build the self-advocacy movement at The Arc Westchester, with more self-advocates stepping forward to lend their voices to directing the future of our agency. In April 2019, we will be organizing a similar self-advocacy event for the participants in our residential program.
For more information on self-advocacy, click here.