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People First NJ
Advocacy By and For People with Disabilities
In 29 states in the US, as well as in Canada, the UK, Germany, New Zealand, Austria, Hong Kong, Japan, and Italy, self advocates have joined a grassroots movement organized and maintained entirely by individuals with disabilities, and dedicated solely to advancing the rights of citizens with disabilities across the globe. This International Movement is known as People First.
People First organizations are unique in their philosophy that people with disabilities, no matter their level or type of disability, are not only fully capable of taking ownership of their advocacy goals, but should work to become as independent as possible; setting their own agendas and maintaining their own network of volunteers and partners.
Now, the NJCDD is making some exciting new changes, revamping its statewide and local advocacy efforts and adapting the mission and philosophy of People First, to help bring this movement to New Jersey.
Join the Movement in New Jersey
The NJCDD is calling on advocates all over New Jersey to join in this movement and to create a new network of People First New Jersey chapters in every county; uniting to affect real changes in their local communities, and coming together as a solid force to advance the rights and opportunities of people with developmental disabilities on the state level.
At the NJCDD, we’re calling on members of the Council’s former Monday Morning chapters and graduates or our Youth Leadership and Partners In Policymaking programs to help establish these new People First groups in their area, and to reach out to other individuals with disabilities to become empowered advocates as well.
What is Self Advocacy
There are several ways that people with developmental disabilities describe and define self-advocacy including:
- Speaking up for themselves;
- Making their voices heard;
- Making their views known;
- Making choices and changes in their own lives;
- Coming together to support each other and have a say in the policies and practices that affect their lives.
Activities of self advocacy groups include:
- Making people aware of their rights;
- Training and talking to other people about self advocacy;
- Making information more accessible by using audiotapes or pictures;
- Making concrete changes to improve their lives (i.e. improve voter accessibility);
- Working to increase choices and quality of supports;
- Planning and organizing self advocacy conferences;
- Assisting people to speak up about abuse and exploitation;
- Organizing to fight against discrimination.
In summary, self advocacy means:
- Thinking for yourself;
- Saying what you think;
- Having relationships like anyone else;
- People listening to you;
- Making mistakes;
- Taking risks;
- Taking responsibility;
- Making decisions;
- Standing up for your rights.
To be a part of this exciting new project, and to lend a hand in growing a People First chapter in your area, contact the NJCDD’s Youth Leadership Coordinator, Frank Latham, for more information. And keep watching NJCDD.org for more updates as we continue to roll out People First New Jersey!
NJCDD People First Coordinator