Asking for something you want or need for yourself or someone you love can take courage and inner strength. The ask is easier when you have basic advocacy tools. This short video provides a two-step process to help advocates step into their role with more confidence.
Here are the words that go with the video:
Being an advocate means speaking up to request something and pressing onward until the goal is met. The best advocates are really clear about two steps you cannot skip:
- Know what you want, and;
- Know who has the power to make that possible.
This may sound obvious, but it’s not always easy. Let’s break it down with an example.
This is Julia—she’s a mom. Her 7-year-old son, Jose, isn’t learning to read like other kids his age. Julia wonders if Jose might have a learning disability. She mentions this to the attendance secretary one morning. Nobody contacts her. She assumes her worries are wrong or not important.
Hmmm, that doesn’t sound quite right, does it?
If she applies our two-step guide to advocacy, Julia can try again. She starts here:
- What does she want?
- Who has the power to make that happen?
First, she wants her son to get more reading help at school. Second, a classroom teacher or a special education teacher might help, but the attendance secretary is not the right person to ask.
It will take some work to press onward. Julia may need an appointment to formally talk with Jose’s teacher or a school administrator to get her advocacy project started. Here are some questions she might ask:
- What do I do if I think my son might have a learning disability?
- Is there a form for me to request a special education evaluation?
- Who should I send my request to?
- When will I get a response?
- What’s the process for getting services to help my son?
- What are my options if I disagree with the school’s decision?
Making a list of questions is an advocate’s homework. Taking careful notes helps with planning and often leads to faster results.
Remember, Julia wants her son to get more help learning to read. Her questions will help her figure out who to work with and what to do next.
Advocacy requires persistence. Don’t give up, and keep your eye on these two questions:
- What do I want?
- Who has the power to work with me and make that happen?