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Stone Belt Divisions :  Milestones Clinical & Health Resources 

Introduction to Advocacy

If you want to make a difference in the supports and services that people with disabilities receive in Indiana and beyond, then you need to become an effective advocate. Your voice, joined with that of many other people can make a change in the local community, in the state and throughout the country. The existence of Stone Belt for more than 55 years, demonstrates the power of advocacy. We were started by a small group of families that wanted local services for their loved ones and look what is available today because of their brave efforts in the 1950's. Because of political forces, it is more important than ever that people get active and voice their concerns and their proposals to the people who make the laws and determine the funding for the supports and services.

"Advocacy" can mean many things, but in general, it refers to taking action. Advocacy simply involves speaking and acting on behalf of yourself or others. There are several types of action that a person can take:

  • Self-advocacy: taking action to represent and advance your own interests;
  • Peer advocacy: taking action to represent the rights and interests of someone other than yourself;
  • Systems advocacy: taking action to influence social, political, and economic systems to bring about change for groups of people; and
  • Legal advocacy: taking action to use attorneys and the legal or administrative systems to establish or protect legal rights. (from Advocacy Training Manual. Wisconsin Coalition for Advocacy (1996), p.1)

This Web site will help you learn information, develop skills and take action to be an effective advocate. The tools here provide step-by-step directions and examples that will help you reach out to policymakers at the local, state and federal levels, as well as your community. With your help, we can ensure the brightest future for individuals with disabilities and the people that support them.