Yesterday I had the honour of working with a group of self advocates who had wanted me to facilitate a meeting where they wrote a 'Bill of Rights.' I arrived at the room moments before we were to start and it was standing room only. Luckily, thought, I'd brought my own chair. I could tell that they were up for the afternoon and up for the challenge of creating something of their very own.
We began, as I always do, with a set of ground rules - which are fun to teach. People were up, participating, reading, doing roll plays - applauding one another, supporting one another, encouraging one another. It's nice to do these with an already established self advocate group. They have already learned some important things.
They have learned to value the others in the group.
They have learned that every voice is important.
They have learned that all deserve respect.
And in doing this they learned some deeply important fact:
That they have value.
That their voice is important.
That they deserve respect.
I think one of the powerful things about the self advocacy movement is that, at it's heart, it's a movement about pride and self esteem. It's a movement about community and support. It's a movement about caring for others and for self.
And that's what I saw. Most, though not all, who were there were part of an established and well run self advocacy group. They carried themselves with dignity and they saw the importance and the purpose of the work being done.
I was honoured to be part of the process.
There are times when I truly love my work.