DEVIATE FROM THE CLICHÉ AND SPEAK UP FOR YOURSELF

What do we need to know about our rights? How to voice our rights? These questions are always of current importance, especially for persons with intellectual disabilities.
Pavlína Mroczkowská told SocNews.by about her experience in the field of self-advocacy. Pavlína is a special pedagogue who provides consultations in the Association for support of people with intellectual disabilities in Czech Republic.

Myths and facts about self-advocacy
Self-advocates are groups of people with intellectual disabilities in Czech Republic. We meet every Tuesday for hour and a half.
I would like to unmask some of the myths about the term “self-advocates”, because parents and specialists have prejudices against the things people with intellectual disabilities are engaged in during such a course. Many pedagogues and social workers think that people with disabilities simply learn by heart their rights in order to be aware of them when they address to different authorities. We discuss the rights during our course, but we use a practically-oriented approach. A person who becomes a self-advocate can speak up for himself.
When attending our course, our students try to “brush” their thoughts, try to comprehend what they want to say. This is the most important skill we teach.


Only pressing topics
Our concept is as follows: a teacher shouldn’t prepare for a lesson in advance. It means that a topic has to be aroused by a person with disabilities and it has to be interesting for him. At first it is quite difficult. Sometimes we discuss basic situations. For instance: “My colleague has accused me of stealing a purse from her bag. I feel bad about that. I am crying. What should I do? How can I protect myself in such a situation? How not to lose my job?”
Our students learn to make decisions and be aware of the consequences. The meaning of self-advocacy is that every person, no matter what disabilities he has, could participate in discussions.
The easiest way to explain what self-advocacy means is to give the following example: a person can decide on his own what to eat and what to wear. It means he won’t be dressed in a pink T-shirt if he doesn’t want to. Such a person can protect his rights and opinion.
Full text of this article made by Vasiliy Yadchenko is available at SocNews.by
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The meeting was held in Prague within the framework of the project “Access to information for people with disabilities”. The project is being implemented by NGO “Belarusian association of assistance to children and young people with disabilities” in partnership with the Association for support of people with intellectual disabilities in Czech Republic. The project is being implemented with the assistance of the Support Programme of Belarus. The Support Programme of Belarus is implemented by Dortmund International Educational Centre (IBB Dortmund) on the request of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the German Society on International Cooperation.

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