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Advocacy Strategies: Learning from Others

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"As parents, we have experienced similar events and emotions. Our children have experienced acts of discrimination. Our hearts have been broken, our senses inflamed."

"Each step along this path, we have been supported by other parents, people with disabilities, and advocates. Love for our children brought us together and keeps us together. We have our stories, our experiences, our fears, and our hopes. We need each other." (From Emotions to Advocacy,
page 15)

We encourage parents to join a support or study group or an advocacy group.

How do you find a parent group? Do you know about parent groups in your child's school? Do you know about groups in your community?

When you join a parent group, you will meet other parents who have traveled down this road. Learn from them In addition to emotional support, they will teach you the "rules of the game."

Look for an active parent group that is dedicated to meeting the needs of their members. You may find groups that were established to meet the needs of children who have different disabilities than your child. Do not rule these groups out. Parents of children with disabilities share many common interests and concerns, and want to get quality special education services for their children.

If your school district has a special education advisory board, contact a board member and ask about parent groups. If you contact a national or state organization for information, ask if there are local support groups in your community. (From Emotions to Advocacy, page 15)

When you look for a parent or disability group, think about your interests and needs.

* Do you want emotional support?
Do you want to meet other families who have a child with a disability?
Do you want advocacy training?
* Do you want to learn more about your child's disability?
Do you want to learn about special education issues?
* Do you want to get involved in school improvement issues?

Your answers to these questions will help you decide what type of group to join.

The resources on these pages will help you get started:

State Parent Training Information Groups

National Disabilities Organizations and Information Groups

International Organizations & Groups

Don't forget to check the Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities for your state!

Emotions to Advocacy Study Groups

Do you want to learn about effective advocacy? The best way to learn is to teach others. How to Start an "Emotions to Advocacy" Study Group is about the nuts and bolts of starting a group, how to get free publicity, how to manage emotions and stay on task.


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