Laurel D’Andrea (left) of the Uptown Rutland Business Association (URBA), and Shelley DeCoste (right), Pathways Self Advocate
WHO ARE THE KELOWNA SELF ADVOCATES?
Self-advocates are people living in the Okanagan who have lived in institutions, group homes and proprietary care. Some of us still live in these places, but many of us live in our own apartments and houses. Some of us have only ever lived in our parent’s homes. Self Advocates have formed groups and we get together by our own choice. No one is forced to come to a meeting and you can leave a meeting if you want.
Self Advocates have all lived in situations where the decisions made in our lives were always made by other people; sometimes the self-advocate was not allowed to be a part of decision-making. Self Advocates are people who have for different reasons been labeled as disabled. We may have learning or physical disabilities or other unique differences and challenges. We have diverse-abilities!
Pathways supports an Advocacy in the Service Area committee. Pathways attempts to have at least one person (representative) from each department/ area. All people supported by Pathways Abilities Society are welcomed and encouraged to attend. Pathways staff attend the meeting to help with tasks like taking notes, as well as to provide any supports required. They do not attend to provide input.
The supervisor will have staff in each department discuss with individuals what advocacy is and encourage individuals to attend the monthly meetings to discuss their concerns or anything else they may need help with.
Minutes of the meetings are kept by the self-advocate liaison or designate. The activity supervisor ensures minutes are posted on the bulletin boards, copies given to every person that came and to the leadership team. The executive director provides the board of directors with a copy. Problems or concerns brought up are fixed to the best of everyone’s ability.
How can I become a Self Advocate??
If you are interested in becoming involved in Self advocacy in the Service Site meetings please call 778-484-4490 and we will provide you current contact information.
Some reasons people give for becoming Self Advocates:
“In the past I was not able to choose the clothes I wore because other people chose them for me.”
“Because I only had one outfit to wear and that was what the institution gave me.”
“Because an education and the opportunity for one were out of the question. Today we demand people speak in plain language so we can understand.”
“Because I want to live on my own and my parents won’t let me.”
“No one thinks I can do anything for myself. I can.”
“I want to learn more things so I can do them for myself and so I can help others.”
“I don’t like when other people think for me. I have a brain.”
“Because I want to go to meetings with the government and discuss issues and to become more knowledgeable about my community.”
“Because I have something important to say.”