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IE Residents Explain Self-Advocacy to College Students

May 2015

   

L-r: IE Self-advocates and David Yellin College, Jerusalem

 
Three residents of Israel Elwyn’s (IE) Community Residential Services were recently invited to teach first year students at the David Yellin Academic College of Education in Jerusalem about self-advocacy.  This is the second year that IE self-advocates with disabilities have been invited to provide Yellin’s students with exposure to what self-advocacy means to them.

Dudu, Rachel and Tami are part of a self-advocacy group composed of ten IE service recipients in Jerusalem that has been active for several years; all three live in IE-supported apartments in Jerusalem.  They prepared carefully for their 40-minute lecture, during which they explained to the 34 students how their group operates and what they do, on both the personal and community level.  The highly successful lecture was followed by a lively question and answer period, and students continued to speak with the self-advocates even as they prepared to leave.  One student invited the IE self-advocates to speak to participants of the pre-Army leadership preparatory program at which she is an instructor and counselor.

Tami summed up the experience:  “I gave the students a lecture on self-advocacy.  I spoke about how we run the group; we told them that take turns bringing refreshments.  We also explained that we hold one big birthday celebration for all the members of the group in June, when many of us have our birthdays.  I also told about small businesses, such as grocery stores, where we distributed a booklet on accessibility.  There were a lot of students in the class and they asked questions, such as where I live and work.  I was excited to give this lecture.  It wasn’t at all scary.”

Rachel added, “It was very pleasant to speak to the students.  We gave examples of the group’s actions regarding a traffic light for a pedestrian crossing by an Israel Elwyn building (in Jerusalem).  We also related our activity on the International Day of People with Disabilities, when we distributed a booklet to small businesses.  I was pleased and really enjoyed the experience with the students.  We told how the group meets once every two weeks to talk about subjects that are important to us.  The class’s lecturer presented our group and explained who we are, and then we presented ourselves.  I told them that my name is Rachel and I live in an apartment in Jerusalem.  I wasn’t afraid of standing up in front of them.  At the end we received a bouquet from the lecturer; it was very exciting.”

Dudu said, “It was a fun and interesting experience.  It’s good that we went to teach the students, it’s very important to change preconceptions and stigmas.”

 

Israel Elwyn and Beit Issie Shapiro have partnered with the Ruderman Family Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles to create the unique Self-Advocacy Program in Israel.  To date, 20 group leaders with intellectual disabilities and 20 professional facilitators have been trained in this innovative enterprise. Additionally, 11 self-advocacy groups with more than 100 participants have been established in Jerusalem, Be’er Sheba, Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Ra’anana and Hadera.






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