Disability Issues

SouthSTAR Services teaches self-advocacy

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Self-advocacy is about speaking up for yourself, and is essential for people with developmental disabilities.

At SouthSTAR Services in Chicago Heights, consumers are being encouraged to focus on what they can do.

"It's not just talking, and then we put things into action people decide, OK, I want to be able to go to a movie with my friends. Then we take what they did back to their team and say this is what I want and the team figures out how to do it," Leanne Roth said.

Roth is the director of employment and advocacy.

"When they are children, they are taught the way they system is set up. They have annual meetings a lot of times. At the meeting they talk about what they can't do and what they won't be able to do. So self-advocacy is trying to reteach people to know, 'Yes they can do a lot of things' and giving people the support they need to do the things they want to do," Roth said.

The organization started teaching self-advocacy five years ago, and works with around 65 people. Sean Jefferson, 37, is one of them. During the summer he works at Windy City Thunderbolt's ball park.

"I can speak up more," Jefferson said. "I want to be a part owner of the Windy City Thunderbolts."

Learn more about SouthSTAR Services in Illinois and Indiana at http://www.southstarservices.org/

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