by Sean Ryan


Self advocacy brings us together as people so we can share ideas and gain strength from each other. We learn from our friends and can support each other.

By coming together we get to know and to understand each other. As friendships grow we are able to talk about the things that are really important to us.

Through friendship we grow. As time goes on our circle of friends increases as we meet other people in our community.

There are some things that we need to change. Many people still use labels to identify us, names like ‘mentally retarded’, ‘dumb’, ‘childlike’, and being ‘handicapped’. These names must go. We are people first and a good label is our own name.

Labels hurt us, as those who use them don’t see us as people. This means we are denied the right to fully live in the life of our own community.

As self-advocates we must have a say in how we are supported. Some organisations that are there to help us do not listen to our worries or involve us in the decisions that are made. This has to change and we must have a real say in all the decisions that affect our lives. We are lucky that we are listened to in COPE Foundation.

The key to having a say is communication. We need to learn to listen, but also to have our say. We can then help each other to understand the things we need to know.