Last year was a big year for me and the other self-advocate council members at Inclusion International. The global report Self-Advocacy for Inclusion was published at the self-advocacy summit in Orlando last October. We responded to the need for support on self-advocacy that we discovered as we worked on the report, by launching Empower Us.
Empower Us works to encourage and develop self-advocacy around the world by creating and sharing best practice resources and training for self-advocates, supporters, families and organisations in an accessible way.
Empower Us is led by self-advocate leaders from around the world, including myself. To me self-advocacy means learning and speaking up for myself and making my voice and choices be heard.
By speaking up for myself and through learning from other self-advocates, looking at information and resources, I have created many opportunities for myself. I have a job in the community, live in a house in the community, and I am involved with Inclusion International and self-advocacy, and I even own a cat.
Even though self-advocacy is for everybody, lots of people with intellectual disabilities haven’t had the same opportunities to be able to speak up for themselves. Empower Us is hoping to help change that.
Sometimes it has been hard to find the right information about what self-advocacy means, as it means different things to different people. Empower Us includes a website for sharing best practice tools and resources on self-advocacy so that everyone around the world can learn what self-advocacy means to them, and how they can speak up and change their lives for the better.
Remember, nothing about us without us – one of our basic human rights is to freedom of speech, just like the right to food and water, and speaking up for ourselves is part of our rights and responsibilities no matter where we are in the world.
There is the saying “use it or lose it”, and the Empower Us network is about all of us using our advocacy, so we get the right to have our rights, as another saying goes. We are never too old to learn things in new and different ways, so please come and join us on our self-advocacy learning journey.
We will be developing activities and events to support self-advocates to meet and learn from one another through exchanges, workshops and forums.
By bringing together individuals and organizations throughout Inclusion International’s global network, Empower Us will help to develop and strengthen self-advocacy and inclusion around the world. There are a thousand miles ahead of us, so we invite you to take the next step.
We would love you to visit the website and use our Facebook and Twitter pages to spread the word. You are welcome to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We are ready to help, so if you are interested in working with us please get in touch and we can support each other to spread the self-advocacy movement around the globe. We look forward to hearing from you.