012 664 8871 dsat@downs.org.za

Marcel Nieuwenhuizen

We have started with the establishment of a self advocacy group at the association. The sessions are facilitated by myself and Mashca, from Pathways.

The aim of the self advocacy is to empower the participants to assert their human rights and express their wishes in a positive way for themselves. This is an integral part of the philosophy of inclusion.

We had two sessions at the association hall and both have been quite successful. The participants had a lot of fun and enjoyed it very much. We have had positive feedback from the parents.  There are presently approximately ten participants that have attended the sessions.
We are trying to create a bit of a routine with the group and we get together every third Saturday of the month from 10h00 until 13h00. During a session we typically have some theory, group interaction and discussion. We also offer a snack and something to drink.  Unfortunately, because of the soccer world cup and the school holidays, we did not have a meeting in June but July should be back to normal.
At each meeting we tackle a particular aspect regarding self advocacy and the sessions are made as fun and interesting as possible for the participants.
So far we have been looking at self awareness. The participants were asked to make charts listing likes and dislikes, to get them thinking about this and then they explained their lists to the rest of the group. They also have made “dream boards” which got them expressing their wishes and wants for the future. This is all to build self esteem and confidence which is important for the self advocate to have.

It is also important that this process of self advocacy is carried on in the home, school, workplace and social environments if we want it to be a success. We need to be more supporters rather than care givers. The difference being that a supporter enables self reliance and is respectful. We as a care giver, although well meaning, only enhances the characteristic learnt helplessness we so often see.

Myself and Mashca also had a opportunity to talk briefly about self advocacy on Radio Ripple and we received some reaction from that. We are hoping that more will join the group.  It will only enhance the experience for us all.

For more information please contact me.

In closing I want to thank Mashca, my fellow facilitator who really does a sterling job and she has a good connection with the participants.

Marcel Nieuwenhuizen
Cell:- 083 253 2325
Email:- marceln@mweb.co.za