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Speaking Out as Leaders

Speaking Out as Leaders:  Self-Advocacy as a Life Changing Means to Independence

On April 26, the Jerusalem-based Self-Advocacy and Leadership Group of Israel Elwyn's joint project with the Beit Issie Shapiro organization held a ceremony to mark the completion of their first leadership training course by its nine participants with intellectual disabilities, four of whom reside in IE supported apartments in the community.

For the participants, the commencement ceremony aroused mixed feelings.  They were sad because their studies and meetings with other people with disabilities who had gone through the same process were coming to an end.  All of them had come to understand how much they had in common, regardless of whether they live with family or in a supported environment in the community.  At the same time the graduates were happy, and proud that they had studied and completed the tasks assigned by the group.  As the participants in the first such group, they were also proud to have successfully completed the course and looked forward to participating in the future in new groups which will call upon them to share the knowledge and experience they gained in the Self-Advocacy and Leadership Group.

One of the IE residents read out something she'd written about the experience.  After thanking all of the professionals who had taught the course on behalf of the participants, she added:  "Most important, we graduate with new conclusions about our lives and will always look back on our time here with fond memories.  We hope it will help us improve our quality of life.  We are grateful to everyone who taught us what self-advocacy is."

Some of the participants have already established self-advocacy groups of their own, while others plan to do so in the near future.  The changes in the participants themselves, some of whom were initially unwilling to speak at the meetings, have been amazing.  They have learned that they have rights, how to speak up and be assertive in getting what is due them, all while developing empathy for others and learning how to lead a group.

IE and Beit Issie continue to promote courses in self-advocacy to additional groups of people with disabilities with the generous support of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, to be joined by the Ruderman Family Foundation which recently announced a generous grant to expand the number of groups forming through this national project.  The Self-Advocacy and Leadership Group is just one of Israel Elwyn's many innovative programs that aim to provide people with disabilities with the supports and tools that will assist them in making their voices heard and optimizing their inclusion in the community.  Other projects include making Israeli labor laws cognitively accessible through instruction and simplified documentation; and cooperation with other organizations to make medical services accessible.

Lets Connect

We'd love to hear from you! Also, please let us know in advance of your next trip to Israel and we will give you a tour of the Israel Elwyn programs.

You can also contact one of our North American offices: United States: (267) 225-5132 or Canada: (416) 649-1655.

If you would like to make a contribution either online or by check, please see the details below.

David B. Marcu, Chief Executive Officer

IE's mission is to develop and provide a wide array of supports and tools for people with disabilities, while constantly striving for excellence of service and the creation of a just society. Together with people with disabilities and society at large, we shall continue working as an innovative and cutting-edge organization.

Please support the work of Israel Elwyn to provide state-of-the-art services in the areas of childhood early intervention, rehabilitation, assisted living, vocational training and employment services for persons with disabilities by making a gift:

At PayPal:
American Friends of Israel Elwyn
Canadian Friends of Israel Elwyn

By check payable to:
American Friends of Israel Elwyn, PO Box 828284, Philadelphia, PA 19182-8284
Canadian Friends of Israel Elwyn, 74 Tycos Drive, Toronto, Ontario M6B 1V9

To donate in Israel:
Please click this link:
Mail checks: payable to "Israel Elwyn", at 20 Henrietta Szold St., Jerusalem 9650200

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