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ECNV’s I Am Self-Advocacy Program Update

By Hannah Roberts, Director of Programs

ECNV is in the middle of their Winter Session for the I Am Self-Advocacy Program, a Pre-Employment Transition Service (Pre-ETS) funded by the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). The Pre-ETS program consists of 5 services aimed at increasing opportunities for students with disabilities to practice and improve workplace skills and help identify career interests. ECNV provides one of these 5 services—Instruction in Self-Advocacy—through their I Am Self-Advocacy Program.

The I Am Self-Advocacy Program is an 8-week program consisting of individual peer mentoring sessions as well as weekly group sessions. During the individual sessions, the peer mentor works one-on-one with the student to discuss topics to include self-awareness, disability rights, assertiveness, and goal setting. After discussion and work surrounding the topic, the student can bring what they have learned to that week’s group session, which provides an invaluable opportunity for students to share their experiences and what they’ve learned in a group setting.

While learning about disability rights, the students in the pilot session watched a short video together about the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ECNV Peer Mentors Lea Kundratic and Michelle Williams noted that the students were very moved by the impact this law had on their lives and this group session was a critical stage in their growth as advocates. By the end of the pilot session, students were able to describe their disability to others, ask for accommodations at a job site, speak up about their employment goals, and learned how and when to advocate for themselves and others.

ECNV is now offering this program to their whole catchment area covering the Counties of Fairfax, Arlington, and Loudoun as well as the Cities of Fairfax, Falls Church, and Alexandria.

The Spring Session will begin April 4th and run through June 10th. This Session will incorporate 3 separate cohorts of students, including one that is specifically geared towards Latino students. If interested, please contact your DARS counselor who must make the referral. ECNV is currently taking in new referrals for this Session.

For more information, please contact Hannah Roberts hannahr@ecnv.org.