Advocating for What?

Advocacy can be used for many purposes. Advocating for and with a loved one with a disability may:

  • Help the person stand up for his or her individual rights (for example, the right to make decisions, the right to dream and set goals, the right to have meaningful relationships, the right to be safe, etc.).
  • Help the person have and maintain opportunities for meaningful involvement in the community (including school and learning, employment and recreation).
  • Help the person gain access to the supports and disability related services that he or she may require to have a good life.

A good starting point for effective advocacy is to know and be clear about what you and your child want and need. It may be harder to get good results when you are unclear about what you want to see happen in your child’s life. There are a few important things that you, your child, and others can do:

  • You can help your child develop and tell others about his or her vision or dreams for the future. At times, especially when your child is younger, you may need to talk about your vision for your child. It is this vision that should inform and drive your efforts to achieve good things for your child.
  • You can help your child develop and set some short and long term goals. Goals may involve the areas of education and learning, employment, recreation and so on. Goals should be positive but also realistic and achievable.
  • You can help to identify what actions or steps need to be taken to achieve your child’s goals. Knowing what needs to happen is a critical part of effective advocacy. Remember that there may be other people that need to be involved in helping to figure out what actions need to take place.

Fortunately, there are planning processes that can help you and your child identify dreams, goals and actions. Many people with disabilities have benefited from planning processes such as PATH and MAPS. Over the years, the New Brunswick Association for Community Living has trained many people to facilitate PATH planning with persons with disabilities and their families. For more information, contact NBACL.

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