By Hannah Roberts, Director of Programs
This November will mark one year since ECNV launched the pilot for its I Am Self-Advocacy Program. Looking forward, we aim to offer program sessions quarterly throughout the year. We will continue to discuss fundamental topics integral to self-advocacy, while incorporating what we found the alumni students may want to learn more about.
The I Am Self-Advocacy Program is a Pre-Employment Transition Service (Pre-ETS) focused on helping students with disabilities, ages 16-22, learn about and hone their skills in self-advocacy. Participants discuss a range of topics such as 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.
Students who complete the program leave with a greater understanding of how to advocate for themselves. One student commented, “I learned that it’s okay to ask for help. Even if you don’t think you need it. And that you need to speak up for yourself. Otherwise, people won’t know what you need or want.” This program assists students in not only exploring their abilities, but also discovering their power to create change and use their voice.
Our Fall Session will begin September 26th and end December 2nd, with a week-long break for the Thanksgiving holiday. During the program, participants will meet virtually with a peer mentor once/week to discuss program topics and as well as on either Tuesdays or Wednesdays (4:15pm – 6:15pm) in a virtual group setting with their peers to learn from one another and build upon what they’ve discussed during the week in their individual sessions.
We are now accepting referrals for the Fall Session. Students interested in participating 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. The referral deadline is September 16th. All referrals must come from DARS.
For more information about the program, please contact the Program Coordinator, Hannah Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ECNV’s office number at 703-525-3268.