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ECNV’s I Am Self-Advocacy Program Coming To Alexandria City High School!

The start of the new year has been quite busy for ECNV’s I Am Self-Advocacy (IASA) Program. The IASA program is a Pre-Employment Transition Service (Pre-ETS) focused on helping students with disabilities, ages 16-22, hone their skills in self-advocacy through a combination of individual and group sessions. ECNV is proud to offer 2 different program models in 2023!

Most readers are already familiar with the first model which consists of an 8-10 week program session where students work one-on-one with a peer mentor discussing topics integral to self-advocacy and then meet with their peers in a group environment to delve deeper into program topics. These program sessions are offered quarterly to students referred by the Fairfax, Alexandria, Leesburg, and Manassas Department of Agining and Rehabilitation Services (DARS) offices.

The Winter Program Session began in January and will last until the end of March. Students are currently discussing disability-awareness with their peer mentor, building off the topic of self-awareness discussed the week before. During these weekly and virtual individual sessions, students work with their peer mentor at a speed and level that is individualized and conducive to their learning. During the weekly group sessions, they take what they have learned and participate in group activities and debates with their peers.

By the end of the program, the students will have put together their own self-advocacy portfolio to include things they learned regarding self-awareness, disability awareness, self-determination, disability rights and responsibilities, how to be assertive, and how to engage allies and be an ally to others.

The second model will launch this month to bring the IASA program into the classroom. Currently, ECNV can only offer this in-school program at Alexandria City High School. Over the span of 16 weeks, peer mentors will meet students in-person at their school for individual and group sessions that are scheduled in alternating weeks. Not only will this model allow for in-person interactions, but it will also alleviate the stress of scheduling another activity during after-school/work hours for these busy young adults.

Students interested in participating in the IASA program should talk to their special education teacher or Employment and Transition Representative (ETR) at their school for assistance. Alternatively, reach out to your local DARS office to get started. All referrals must come from DARS.

For more information about the program, please contact the Program Coordinator, Hannah Roberts at hannahr@ecnv.org or call ECNV’s office number at 703-525-3268.