ECNV’s I Am Self-Advocacy Program

By Hannah Roberts, Director of Programs

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 topics integral to self-advocacy 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.

When ECNV launched the I Am Self-Advocacy Program in November last year, we had 6 students in the pilot session. Since then, word has spread about the program, and we ended up requiring 2 separate groups for our Spring Session due to it being our largest number of participants to date!

Students are learning invaluable information that can arm them to advocate for themselves. One student offered, “I did not know about the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) like how it was formed and what steps it took…the people that fought to get the ADA recognized,” and further stated, “I found it interesting…to learn that not only do nondisabled people have rights, but disabled people have their own rights as well and are protected under the law.”

While our previous program sessions spanned a duration of 8 weeks, our Summer Session will be condensed into 4 weeks, running from July 5th – July 29th. Participants will explore their abilities and discover their power to create change, speak up for themselves, and plan for future employment in a fun learning environment with their peers.

During this intense 4-week program session, students will continue to discuss important self-advocacy topics virtually in individual sessions with a peer mentor twice a week as well as in a group setting on Tuesdays and Thursdays during either a morning session (10:00 am – 12:00 pm) or an afternoon session (3:00 pm – 5:00 pm).

We will also offer an optional in-person leadership group on Fridays from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm where students can listen and learn from guest speakers and one another to build upon what they’ve discussed during the week in their individual and group sessions.

If students were unable to enroll for this Summer Session, don’t worry. ECNV will be offering the I Am Self-Advocacy Program throughout the year, so there will be opportunities to participate in future sessions.

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.