APD > Self-Advocacy

“Never, never, never give up!“ ~ APD Director Barbara Palmer’s rallying cry to self-advocates at the Capitol on Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day, March 5, 2015. Read or listen to the full article at this link.

What is self-advocacy?

Self-Advocacy happens when a person with a disability takes action to promote his or her own independence. A person who engages in self-advocacy is called a self-advocate.

What does a self-advocate do?

A self-advocate:

  • Makes their own decisions
  • Stands up for their rights
  • Helps others understand what services, opportunities, and attitudes must be present for people with developmental disabilities to make choices about their lives without undue dependency or undue influence from others.
View an anthem written by Florida’s self-advocates called My Voice Matters to see how they would like others to see people with developmental disabilities.

Self-Advocacy in Florida

With the help of FL SAND (Florida Self-Advocates Network’D), Florida’s self-advocates are hard at work. FL SAND is Florida’s independent self-advocacy network. At present, it includes 15 Regional Groups. Visit http://flsand.org/regional-groups to learn more about each group. This year, the Regional Groups came together and decided on three important issues to present to the Florida Legislature. See the 2015 Legislative Priorities flyer.

The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council has supported self-advocacy initiatives for several years through projects that provide training and mentoring on self-advocacy. The results of these projects are starting to be seen. For example, those participating in self-advocacy activities are practicing and learning invaluable skills, like self-determination. There is a great need to recruit more members for the local self-advocacy groups.

We are confident that our clients can help the self-advocacy movement grow in Florida with our help and the help of FL SAND. Our clients’ participation in self-advocacy activities will not only benefit people with developmental disabilities in the whole state, but also enrich the lives of each individual who actively participates.

There are self-advocacy groups located in the Regions listed below. We encourage individuals who want to be self-advocates to join a group near them. Contact information for each group is provided below.

Group Name Phone Email
Santa Rosa Transforming Lives (also known as “The Transformers) Anne Smith 850-554-3950 Annsmi@bellsouth.net
Elephant Herds (Panama City) Erica Turner 850-624-0745 Treyshottie665@yahoo.com
Suwannee River Self-Advocacy Consortium (Jefferson County, Madison County, Taylor County, Lafayette County and Suwannee County) Mary Barnes 850-223-2582 marybarnes15@gmail.com
New Horizons Support Group for People with Disabilities Arizona Jenkins 813 494-0111 Ajenkins52@tampabay.rr.com
Central Florida Self-Determination Advocacy Council Janet Nunnelly

Sammie Ripley
407-421-1954 jlcater1963@gmail.com

Voices Heard (Fort Myers) Mary Provencher

Tameka Marshall
239-839-4997 provench@comcast.net

People First of South Florida (Dade Chapter) Linda Angress 786-556-9679 langress@sunrisegroup.org
People First of South Florida (Broward Chapter) Linda Angress 786-556-9679 langress@sunrisegroup.org
Abilities Venti (Pembroke Pines) Robby Greenburg 954-240-6313 robby.greenberg@gmail.com
Self-Advocacy for Independent Life (SAIL) (Palm Beach County) Terri Harmon 561-866-9238 gcdso@bellsouth.net
Stand Up for Independence (SUFI)(Treasure Coast) Sandy Coleman 918-520-0354 sacs618@gmail.com
Self-Advocates of East Volusia (Daytona Beach) Micky Beauregard 407-324-1781 mickybeauregard@aol.com
Advocates Reaching Community (Jacksonville) Charlotte Temple 904-465-0195 ctemple@arcjacksonville.org
Sting Ray Alumni (St. Petersburg) Eric Vaughan 646-824-4973 laresa@mail.usf.edu
Polk County Self-Advocacy Alliance Stacey Way (Self-Advocate) 863-293-9085 waverider962003@yahoo.com

More information: For more information, please contact APD’s statewide Self-Advocacy Coordinator by emailing Natalie.Jean@apdcares.org or by contacting a local self-advocacy liaison. Download the contact list for the email and phone number of an APD liaison.

Self-Advocates in the Spotlight

Florida has come a long way since 1979, the year the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council marks as the year the first self-advocacy group formed in our state. Thanks to every self-advocate in Florida, legislators and the public are awakening to a new, more inclusive view, about people with developmental disabilities. The public is witnessing empowered individuals who are determined to guide the perspective of lawmakers, employers, and others so that all people with developmental disabilities have the opportunity and necessary supports for independent living and community participation.

APD is encouraged by every self-advocate. By spotlighting the individuals below, we hope to encourage others to advocate for people with developmental disabilities. Most importantly, we hope to inspire people with developmental disabilities to become self-advocates. The National Gateway to Self-Determination Network calls the Self-Advocacy Movement the “unacknowledged Civil Rights movement”, but this cannot be the case in Florida if we want to increase the momentum of progress.

Idelio Valdez Leadership and Advocacy Award

This award is dedicated to the memory of Idelio Valdez. The document linked below briefly describes his impact as a self-advocate. It also provides the selection criteria.

Information on previous award winners is forthcoming

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