Self-Advocacy at Cape Abilities

Filed in Blog, Community Partners, Jobs, Life Skills, Vocational, Volunteers by on November 14, 2017

For more than five decades, Cape Abilities has created opportunities for our participants that improve their life goals and help them, in turn, to become valuable contributors to the betterment of their communities.  These individuals are powerful change agents!

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Self-Advocacy Leadership Series

“ I liked the class a lot. It was fun to be a part of something that will help me a lot.” Jamie Consoletti, 2018 Graduate

In this rapidly-growing program, an eight-week course offered thru Bridgewater State University’s Yarmouth (MA) branch, we talk a lot about “voice and choice”.   In the program, our participants are learning to make choices about services that they desire and, just as importantly, are also learning how to advocate for appropriate supports, even connecting with our local legislators to talk about specific service and support needs.   With self-advocacy training, they become valued employees at local businesses, essential community partners working to improve the natural environment, and respected volunteers who support the work of other non-profit agencies.

We are so proud of the seven Cape Abilities participants and three staff members who graduated from our third Self-Advocacy Leadership Series this past December!  This program continues to provide education and training support for people with disabilities, and seeks to help these individuals improve their skills in the areas of decision-making and leadership. The eight-weeks of classes was also a great opportunity to connect people with disabilities to create self-advocacy networks and expand their personal social network.  Congratulations to all!!

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 Self Advocacy News

We are so proud of the various ways in which people with and without developmental disabilities come together to cultivate a vital and diverse community.   These partnerships not only promotes the many ways people with disabilities enrich the Cape Cod community, but they highlight the many contributions Cape Abilities participants are making in their communities.

We were thrilled to receive a visit from Cape and Islands State Senator Julian Cyr, who met with participants at our Lyndon Center in Hyannis!
An active advocate for social justice, Senator Cyr is Chairman of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business, and he not only met and chatted with a number of program participants, but he also learned about the critical importance of attracting and supporting a vital workforce to provide services for individuals with disabilities across the Cape.

2018 Sean O’Brien Self Advocate Award Winner – Devan Maddaluno
Posthumously named in honor of Sean O’Brien, a Cape Abilities volunteer and staff who truly found his ability to advocate for himself, this award is presented at Cape Abilities’ Annual Meeting to individuals determined to make real differences in their own lives.

Devan (right, striped dress) joined the Cape Abilities family in July of 2017, becoming one of the strongest advocates for herself and others.  A graduate of Cape Abilities’ second Self-Advocacy Leadership Series at Bridgewater State University in Yarmouth, Devan advocated to find the right job for herself, and her positive attitude and determination has made her a great supporter of  colleagues and friends, encouraging them to become advocates for themselves and encouraging all to pursue and achieve their most cherished goals.

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Volunteerism

Cape Abilities participants benefit in so many ways from volunteering. They gain knowledge, skills, increased confidence and social connections and most importantly, they are seen as respected valuable partners who enjoy making a difference in the lives of others!

Community Based Day Support participants from our Hyannis and Falmouth centers partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (right) every summer to oversee and maintain a garden designed to “enhance the pollinator habitat”.

The lives of senior citizens are brightened when participants from our Falmouth, Eastham and Hyannis centers deliver groceries and smiles thru several town Meals On Wheels programs, and the Town of Barnstable’s Brown Bag program.  Click on the video to hear how!

Participants from our Eastham program (below) partner every summer with the Mass. Audubon Society’s Wellfleet Sanctuary to build nest protectors and road warning signs to protect the endangered diamond back terrapin turtles that live in nearby salt marshes.

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What You Can Do!

While there has been much progress made over the years, in the lives of individuals with disabilities there is still much to be done.

Please consider the following:

Take time to talk to your children about disabilities. Encourage understanding, respect, and friendships.

Contact your local legislators and local policymakers to let them know you expect them to promote and enact policies that benefit people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

Talk to your employer about their practices for recruiting and hiring people with disabilities. Many employers don’t realize just how much an employee with I/DD can contribute to the workplace.

Support businesses that employ people with disabilities and make sure they know you noticed. Take time to tell a manager how they’ve earned your business.

Thank you for helping to raise awareness
when we join together we can make a difference!

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