Advocating for Yourself
A common way that most youth begin as leaders is to speak out about the things in their life that are important to them. This includes youth telling others about the type of future they are planning for as adults. When using this kind of leadership, individual youth want to get people like their friends, parents, or teachers to listen to what they want and need from others, and follow them to the kind of future they want.
Check out this story about self-advocacy:
Jill has a developmental disability and sometimes other people call her retarded, which she doesn’t like very much.
Jill practices math and reading with a special education teacher, but spends most of her time in the regular classroom with
students who don’t have disabilities. In ninth grade, Jill skipped her IEP meeting because nobody ever let her talk
anyway. Later, she wished she would have gone to the meeting when she found out she had to take a cooking class for the
second year in a row, and she wouldn’t be in the geography class that all her friends were taking. The next year,
Jill went to her IEP meeting and said which classes she wanted to take, and “no more cooking!” Jill’s
mom and dad were very happy to hear Jill speak up for herself, just like at home. Jill’s case manager also told Jill
she did a great job, and next year has agreed to help Jill be the leader of her IEP meeting. Jill is being a leader by
telling people what she likes and doesn’t like. Because of Jill’s leadership, the people on her IEP team are
listening and helping Jill find things to do at school that she likes and will really help her.
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