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VOICES OF VIRGINIA Katherine Olson Self-Advocacy Coordinator The Arc of Virginia.

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Presentation on theme: "VOICES OF VIRGINIA Katherine Olson Self-Advocacy Coordinator The Arc of Virginia."— Presentation transcript:

1 VOICES OF VIRGINIA Katherine Olson Self-Advocacy Coordinator The Arc of Virginia

2 VOICES OF VIRGINIA Voices of Virginia is a statewide self-advocacy group run by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities Voices of Virginia helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities speak as one voice

3 VOICES OF VIRGINIA We are composed of representatives from nine local self-advocacy groups located all across Virginia: People First of Charlottesville People First of Northern Virginia People 4 People ( South Hampton Roads) Our Voices (Norfolk) People First of Chesterfield The Arc of Greater Williamsburg- Self-Advocacy Program The Arc of Rappahannock- Self-Advocacy Program Four Seasons (Richmond) Hampton/Newport News Aktion Club

4 What does self-advocacy mean to you?

5 A CCORDING TO T HE A RC OF US … Self-advocacy gives people their rights of basic personhood and citizenship by letting them speak up and stand up for themselves Self-advocacy contributes to the knowledge, experience, and wisdom that others have of your needs and desires

6 HISTORY OF SELF-ADVOCACY 1967: Sweden Swedish parent’s organization held a meeting for people with developmental disabilities Leisure clubs were formed for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities 1968 & 1970: National Conferences were held for members of these clubs; participants developed statements on how they wanted to be treated

7 HISTORY OF SELF-ADVOCACY 1972: Movement Spreads Great Britain and Canada 1973: First Self-Advocacy conference, May We Have a Choice, is held in British Columbia, Canada. Individuals from Oregon attend and take the information home with them 1974: First People First convention is held in Salem, Oregon. Instead of being led by professionals, as was the case for the Canadian conference, it was run by people with disabilities

8 HISTORY OF SELF-ADVOCACY Oregon: Within five years, Oregon had over 1,000 members of self-advocate groups Today, the self-advocacy movement has grown into an international movement in an estimated 43 countries, with 17,000 members. In the US alone, there are an estimated 800 self-advocacy groups Every chapter is different in their own way

9 PEOPLE FIRST An international movement Individuals representing themselves Primary Objectives: To meet the needs of individuals with I/DD so that they may live independent and normal lives

10 HOW DID PEOPLE FIRST GET ITS NAME? January 8, 1974: At a conference planning meeting one person talked about being labeled as “mentally retarded” and said, “I want to be known as a person first!”

11 HISTORY OF PEOPLE FIRST IN VIRGINIA Virginia’s People First started right here in Virginia Beach- it’s time to take it to the next level! 1989: After attending The Association for Severely Handicapped (TASH) Conference in Richmond, individuals from Virginia Beach began to meet informally 1990: Virginia Beach chapter requests funds from the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities 1991: Virginia Beach chapter receives funding, hires a staff, and attends the national People First Conference in Nashville, Tennessee

12 HISTORY OF PEOPLE FIRST IN VIRGINIA 1991: People First chapters formed in Norfolk and Northern Virginia 1992: 130 people attend Virginia Beach’s “The Power Behind the Vote.” Afterwards, they file papers and become a statewide non-profit organization; People First of Virginia, Inc. is born 1993: The first State Conference was held in Charlottesville. New chapters were established in Emporia, Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Chesterfield

13 HISTORY OF PEOPLE FIRST IN VIRGINIA 1994: Northern Virginia hosts the National People First Conference 1995: Several chapters become inactive as a result of poor funding and other problems 1997: The Arc of Virginia provides People First with support and resources; as a result, two chapters are started in Prince William and Fauquier

14 HISTORY OF PEOPLE FIRST IN VIRGINIA 1998: The Arc of Virginia and People First collaborate and successfully apply for a grant from the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities. Staff are hired to develop community support, maintain self-advocacy groups, and create new self- advocacy groups. A consumer is hired to staff People First of Virginia : People First chapters continue their work independently of one another 2008: The Arc of Virginia hires a self-advocacy coordinator 2008: The Arc of Virginia’s first State Convention; self-advocates attend and develop a credo

15 What We Expect of Our Service System The State will take the “R” word out of the name of the Department Even at Arc meetings that we won’t hear the “R” word being used We will live in the community, like other people We won’t live in institutions We will have something to do during the day… like a JOB that pays OK money We will have a way to get around town The service system will acknowledge the failure of stereotypes like ones that say we are not capable of doing things or making our own decisions The Arc of Virginia, 2008 State Convention

16 What We Expect of Our Service System We will have authority over the services we get We will have authority over our own life… that is, power over our life We will be part of any decision making our life to help us stay safe and healthy People won’t tell us what to do Our parents and others will listen to us and not tell us what to do like we are children. Sometimes parents don’t listen well. We can make decisions! But we want to stay safe too You will respect that we want to date like other people do, have boyfriends and girlfriends and maybe even get married The Arc of Virginia, 2008 State Convention

17 WHAT DO WE HAVE TODAY? Tremendous need for statewide self-advocacy effort; we need to work together! Nine local I/DD self-advocacy groups located all across Virginia People First of Charlottesville People First of Northern Virginia People 4 People (South Hampton Roads) Our Voices (Norfolk) People First of Chesterfield The Arc of Greater Williamsburg- Self-Advocacy Program The Arc of Rappahannock- Self-Advocacy program Four Seasons (Richmond) Hampton/Newport News Aktion Club

18 HOW DID VOICES OF VIRGINIA START? The Justice Department found that Virginia unnecessarily institutionalized people with intellectual disabilities in training centers and failed to provide adequate community-based services, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act The state faces a lawsuit if it does not fix the problems, as outlined in the DOJ findings letter DOJ asked to meet with People First Chapters in Virginia Historic moment for Virginia

19 MARCH 7 TH MEETING

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22 ISSUES WE IDENTIFIED AT THE MEETING Major barriers to equality and community integration for people with I/DD: waiting lists, institutions and sheltered workshops Other issues: community inclusion, transportation, employment, discrimination, need for help with bill paying, housing, limited health care, accessibility

23 WHAT COULD WE DO TOGETHER? Help one another by speaking up for each other, as well as speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves Contact candidates for the election to make them aware of the issues surrounding the I/DD community; write letters to delegates and the state legislature Advocate to shut down the institutions Peer advocacy, volunteer work, vote, promote public awareness in schools, at church, and in the workplace

24 APRIL 26 TH MEETING Met again to continue the momentum

25 APRIL 26 TH MEETING

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27 WHAT WE’RE DOING NOW Help local self-advocacy groups come together to establish a statewide voice Help the self-advocacy movement spread across Virginia We will come together as one strong voice, representing the self-advocates of Virginia with I/DD, to inform the public that people with disabilities are able to accomplish many things We will work together to promote the equality and independence for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities We will meet quarterly to discuss the issues that currently face the I/DD community- everyone has a story to tell

28 AUGUST 11 TH MEETING

29 WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP? Do you know of a local self-advocacy group that wants to be involved? Is there a need for a self-advocacy group in your region? Spread the word! Share your experiences

30 CONTACT ME Katherine Olson Self-Advocacy Coordinator, The Arc of Virginia Telephone: , ext. 100


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