Self-advocacy

Filed in Blog by on November 14, 2017

At Cape Abilities, we talk about creating opportunities that change lives and change communities but it is not just our professional staff and volunteers who effect growth and change – the individuals we serve are powerful change agents!

In our burgeoning Self-Advocacy group, we talk a lot about “voice and choice”.   Our program participants are making choices about services that meet their needs and just as importantly, they are learning how to advocate for appropriate supports. ………promotes the many ways people with disabilities enrich the Cape Cod community. ……..highlight the many contributions Cape Abilities participants make in their communities. They are not only valued employees at local businesses, but they also advocate for their services, work to improve the natural environment and volunteer to support the work of other non-profit agencies.

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.

We have many examples of how Cape Abilities participants are both well respected and essential community partners we are shining a light on how they give back to the community through a broad range of volunteer activities and also how our self-advocates are connecting with our local legislators to talk about their service and support needs.

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Self-Advocacy

We are so proud of Alison and Nick who were among the graduates of an 8-week Self-Advocacy Leadership Series at Bridgewater State University this summer!  The series provides education and training support to people with disabilities, and seeks to help these individuals improve their skills in the areas of decision-making and leadership. This was also a great opportunity to connect people with disabilities to self-advocacy networks as well as expand their personal social network.  Congratulations to Alison and Nick!

 

(l-r) CA’s Emmitt, Senator Cyr, CA’s Amanda and CA President/Exec.Dir. Rosalie Edes

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! Senator Cyr has been appointed 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.

Meet Joe, who has demonstrated phenomenal personal growth over the last 12 years at Cape Abilities. In the clip below, shown at our 216 Annual Meeting, Joe explains his dedication to his community through the wide range of his volunteer work. His great work ethic is clearly evident in his job at Shaw’s Market, who has employed Joe for nearly fifteen years.

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Day at the State House

Participants and staff from Cape Abilities visited the State House (MA) in 2017 to take part in Legislative Contact Day!  This initiative was created by the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers to give individuals with disabilities an opportunity to meet with their local legislators, thank them for their past support of disability programs and explain the value of their continued support.

Thank you Representatives Will Crocker and Dylan Fernandes for meeting with our team!

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2016 Sean O’Brien Self Advocate Award Winners
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2016 marked the first year of the presentation of the Sean O’Brien Self Advocate Award, posthumously named in honor of Sean O’Brien, a Cape Abilities volunteer and employee who modeled self-advocacy for our participants. This award is presented to individuals participating in our new self-advocacy program, which will allow them to have a ‘voice of choice’ that lets them tell us what they want to do and how they want to do it,  and how the services to which they have been referred makes sense in their lives. The inaugural award wass presented this year to Joe Glawson (above, left), Nick McCarty (above, center) and Tim Brunton (above, right).

2017 Sean O’Brien Self Advocate Award Winners

Bernadette McDonald is a strong, tenacious and independent spirit who is a member of our Independent Living program. She lives and manages her own home responsibly, and is a dedicated, seven-year employee of Dunkin Donuts who weathers life challenges with fortitude and grace.

Justin McGee is a very enthusiastic participant who attends our Cochran Center program in Eastham, where he is an active member of our Self Advocacy group.  His eagerness to volunteer has become infectious among participants and staff, and his support for his peers is extraordinary, especially when he feels something is unfair.  A strong self-advocate who is constantly seeking ways to gain more knowledge, Justin has become an loyal leader within his community.

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!

The lives of senior citizens are brightened when participants from our Hyannis center deliver groceries and smiles thru the town of Barnstable’s Meals on Wheels and Brown Bag program. Click on the video to hear how!

Partnering with the Falmouth Service Center: since 2009, participants from our  Falmouth center (right) have made weekly pick-ups of donated food items from Stop and Shop and stocked pantry shelves. They have also sponsored winter coat drives, providing outreach to their neighbors in need.

Participants from our Eastham program (below) partnered 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!

Cape Abilities’ Taylor works with Ann and Barbara at Katelynn’s Closet in Yarmouth.

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.

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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