Ryan Groth and Gladys DuranSelf Advocates are taking centre stage in so many ways, including Gladys Duran, Barb Goode and Ryan Groth, the entrepreneurial trio behind the ESATTA Co-op (Empowering Self Advocates to Take Action).

The ESATTA Co-op was created in 2010 when the group decided to use their own life experiences and skills and use them to teach others and at the same time, being their own bosses by taking charge of the workshops and training events they were hosting.

Trainers in a process called People Planning Together (PPT), where they helped people who receive residential supports and other comprehensive services to take a leadership role in planning their life, Self-Advocates Duran, Groth and Goode, and mentor James White, were awarded a Self-Advocates Seeding Innovation contract from BC Association of Community Living (now Inclusion BC).

“We wanted to do something unique, something that others haven’t done before,” said Goode. “We are helping people find their niche in life.”

The group decided that there might be an opportunity to create work, be their own bosses by forming a worker’s cooperative.

A worker’s cooperative is an enterprise owned and democratically controlled by its workers. This is an alternative to working alone in self-employment and avoids the stress, pressure and possible exploitation of traditional jobs. Co-op members have more say over what the business does, and fellow co-worker owners will likely be nicer and more understanding of personal needs and diversabilities.

A co-op provides the best possible employment conditions for its members.

They started to make plans, researched the idea, and the result was the formation of the ESATTA Cooperative, Empowering Self Advocates to Take Action.

The group started being hired to present workshops to self-advocates and staff.

Duran works as a peer advisor at Semiahmoo House Society. Over the last few years she has presented workshops on different subjects and experiences in the community living movement.

Goode is a well-known self-advocate who has spoken up about many important issues regarding the rights of people with developmental disabilities. Barb serves on several committees for Community Living BC and other organizations.

Groth is a self advocate who lives in Richmond BC. He is interested in giving self- advocates a voice through training and his experience in technology to create different training opportunities and resources to help other self advocates through the Co-op.

In addition to the PPT training, which helps self-advocates have a say in their lives, ESATTA has presented workshops via discussions, exercise, world café sessions and videos. To date, they have covered topics on self-esteem, internet safety, loneliness, barriers faced in everyday life,  personal and supported decision making, staying

healthy physically and mentally, and building confidence to help with finding employment. They have also had workshops on how to incorporate a worker’s cooperative.

“Only by working together can we get things done,” said Gladys during her presentation. “There is never a dream too big to reach.”

If you are interested in ESATTA training sessions, creating a custom made workshop for your agency or group, of if you have any questions, contact esatta.coop@gmail.com