We are the Community Connections Self Advocacy Group. We hold meetings on the first Monday of every month. We have 12 members. Our group is like a family. Everyone is an individual with different abilities and contributions to make. Friendship is important. We learn from our mistakes. We are role models for others. We learn to deal with conflict and to get along with everyone. We let everyone have a voice and encourage people to speak up. One of our members has been a self advocate for more than 20 years.
Community Connections started on February 8, 2008. The local Community Living BC manager brought self advocates together and asked us what issues we would like to work on. He then made a contract and hired one of us to get the group up and going. We started out in Vernon and then we invited members to join from other communities, like Armstrong and Enderby. Guest speakers were invited, including the bus driver. We still have different guest speakers meet with us to discuss different issues such as Leadership, Safety and Scams, Fundraising, Transit, Politicians, PWD, Affordable Housing and more. We prefer to have people come in and speak to us face to face, rather than connecting by computer.
We work on issues together and write letters everywhere to try and make positive changes in our community. BC transit issues have been important to us from the beginning. Affordable housing and PWD rates are also a priority. We mentor other self advocate groups and try and attend conferences that will help us connect with others and learn new things.
We have learned a lot together along the way, like how to give presentations. One of our members learned how to write a book, which she will sell to raise money for our group. We seek input from others and share what it means to be a self advocate. We learn to get things done on time. It feels good to get out of our programs to go to monthly self advocacy meetings. We get out into the community more often.
We feel strongly that more people know about Self Advocacy. We want to advertise for more members. It is important to be heard and to fight for people who have a hard time speaking for themselves. We need to get out and talk to more self advocates. We want the community to be open to everyone.
We have a good Chair and leader of our group who is trying to keep the group going after some members have left. We are still working on Transit and Affordable housing, and are writing letters so that more people can have pets in their apartments. We want to educate other communities about how to start a Self Advocate group. We want to raise more money to travel to conferences and meet with other leaders so we can battle issues and find solutions together. The bigger our voice the more we will be heard by others who can work with us to make our community stronger.