What is Self-Advocacy?

Merrick, Inc., is considered a leader in the State of Minnesota, in part, due to our commitment to self-advocacy. In 1997, six self-advocates started the initial Putting People First group hosted at Merrick. Today, there are three self-advocacy groups that meet weekly with 75 active members. Annually, each group elects officers and advisors from Merrick provide an auxiliary role. For many years now, self-advocates have made countless presentations to schools, civic organizations, disability groups, conferences, and workshops. Self-advocates believe that self-advocacy is not just an activity or something that happens in a group, if you are speaking up for yourself – you ARE a self-advocate. It is a life-changing experience.

Merrick is well known for providing opportunities for self-advocates to express themselves and learn and encourage their peers to pursue their goals and dreams. Self-advocates at Merrick have focused their efforts in the following four areas:

  • Public Awareness
  • Legislative Efforts
  • Voter Rights
  • Serving on boards, committees, and workgroups

“The self-advocacy program [at Merrick, Inc.,] has not only sensitized and educated me on a number of issues relating to the unfair stereotyping of individuals with disabilities, but by having this program, Merrick has empowered individuals with disabilities … the Self-advocacy program ensures that it is more difficult to continue to treat individuals with disabilities as the forgotten minority.”

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank
“You learn about events and brilliance. Also, freedom and how to vote for president. I’m going to be our Self-Advocacy president one day.” – Tom

Accessible Voting Machines
Clients are encouraged to exercise their voting rights.

Self-Advocacy Newsletter

Check out Merrick’s Self-Advocacy Newsletter to learn what it means to be a self-advocate at Merrick.

Self-Advocacy Newsletter Winter 2022
Self-Advocacy Newsletter Spring 2020


To learn more about self-advocacy at Merrick,  please contact Travis Sundberg at