What is Self-Advocacy?
Merrick, Inc., is considered an industry 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 staff 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