Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

What is advocacy?

Meg Casey
November 23, 1983

Dear Meg,

I am in seventh grade you came to speak up to us kids in my school about being handicapped. It was very interesting and I enjoyed getting to meet you and other people who came with you to tell us about at their handicaps.

I liked the way you were with us. Sometimes you were funny and sometimes you were serious. You made it fun to be there with you and made us all understand better what people with handicaps go through in life and how other people with and without handicaps can help to make things easier for them just by paying more attention to what is going on around them and be more considerate.

You said that we could write down any questions that we might think of after you left and then send them to you. Here's mine. I don't really understand what advocacy is. I read in the newspaper that you are an advocate for the disabled. What do you do? How do you do it?

From, Kevin G.

Hello Kevin,

I'm glad you wrote in with your questions. I'm sure you are not alone in your confusion about the term advocacy and explaining it would help us all out. First, I would recommend that you check out your own dictionary's definition of the word and compare them with my explanation.

To advocate it is to speak or write in favor of something; To defend or recommend it.

An advocate is someone who pleads the cause of another or ask as a mediator for: someone who supports or defends a cause or argument.

Advocacy is the act of advocating or pleading a cause that you support; to defend it; vindication.

I am considered an advocate of the disabled person because I believe in and support, both in verbal and in written words, the reasons behind the civil rights movement of Americans with disabilities. I work towards the goals of the movement for total accessibility of every community in our country (and the world) architecturally and in attitude; and for the completed integration of the "social circles" in society so that every individual can participate to the fullest of his or her ability as it is his or her civil right to do.

When I first became concerned over the issues being dealt with by the people in this movement I didn't have the slightest idea how to put my frustrated energies to an effective use either. All I had was a lot of enthusiasm and a stubborn Irish determination on my own until a friend gave me a *quot;do it yourself advocacy kit" – a list of explanations about advocacy – some definite do’s and don'ts and a bunch of suggested methods or tactics for the most effective ways to advocate whatever issues a person wants to fight for.

Next week I'll give you the Eleven Commandment of Advocacy and the Do’s and Don'ts that were given to me on that list too. No matter what choices you make for yourself in life knowing how to support your own decisions well or how to state your case clearly and firmly is a definite plus for your confidence. We can all use that!

Milford Polished-Marble
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originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper
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