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Disability Rights Nebraska hosting classes for youth on being self-advocates

Star-Herald - 7/16/2017

Disability Rights Nebraska is holding free classes to help youth with disabilities become better self-advocates in their own lives.

"It's All About the Plan" is a summer self-advocacy course for students with disabilities. Students who attend the four-day course will learn about and practice self-advocacy skills through hands-on activities, community speakers and e-learning tools.

The free training sessions are for youth with disabilities, ages 14-21. Mindy Baird, community outreach disability advocate said the sessions will help students with disabilities learn how to advocate effectively for themselves while having fun doing it.

"They will learn how to recognize their skills and strengths while developing a sense of what their future holds for them," Baird said. "We have fun, interactive activities to keep the youth engaged and learning."

A parent group will also be held to educate about area service providers who can assist in learning how to navigate government systems. Parents will learn what they will need to do in order to access services in the community to make transition much easier for them and their youth.

"They will have the opportunity to learn self-advocacy skills as well as meet a variety of (representatives from) different agencies from the community," she said.

Representatives from Vocational Rehabilitation, Department of Labor, Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, ESU #13, Department of Health and Human Services and more will be available.

"We are passionate about educating the youth and parents in our community about transitioning youth to adult services, how to access necessary services at the time you need them, and teaching both youth and parents how to effectively advocate for themselves," she said.

Youth with disabilities will not always live with their parents or caregivers. They need to learn how to advocate for their wants and needs in an effective manner independently, she said.

Self-advocacy is a skill everyone needs in order to speak up for what they need and want in life. For students with disabilities, it is also important for them to have their voices heard.

"Many teenagers without a disability struggle with this same skill once entering transition age," Baird said. "For a person with a disability, it is increasingly important to have strong self-advocacy skills, reducing their chances of being abused, neglected or exploited by others."

The course runs July 24-27 from 1-3:30 p.m., each day at the Harms Advanced Technology Center, room 189.

The parent session will be July 18, from 6-8 p.m., and will provide information about Nebraska services and support.

The event is free, but space in the course is limited. To register, visit https://panhandlepartnership.com/event/self-advocacy/. For more information, contact Mindy Baird at mindy@drne.org or call 308-631-5367 or 1-800-422-6691.

 
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