Advocates in Action RI
"Self-Advocacy means finding out what's important, speaking up about it and making a difference!"

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Advocates in Action: Who We Are

Advocates in Action Rhode Island is a Statewide Self-Advocacy organization. Our mission is to empower people who have a developmental disability to advocate for themselves and others, to support and strengthen the Self‐Advocacy movement
and to raise awareness about disability issues in the community. We were incorporated in August 2012. Prior to that, we had a long history of helping build and support the Self-Advocacy movement in our state and around the country.

In 1992, several of the current members of the Advocates in Action RI Statewide Board of Representatives and staff helped form the Rhode Island Coalition of Self-Advocacy Groups. Since then, we have worked to empower people with developmental disabilities. Our focus has been on helping people become educated about their options, aware of available resources, able to make informed decisions, in control of their own lives, and involved within the community.

Our work has been made possible through the support of the RI Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and a family advocacy organization known as PAL.

In 2012 we were incorporated as a non-profit organization in the state of Rhode Island. We are currently in the process of applying to become a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.


Some of the work we do to support this mission includes:

  • Rhode Island's Annual Statewide Self-Advocacy conference: We have been hosting this since 1996 and the number of attendees has increased over the years. The average attendane is 400-450 people. The name of our 2013 conference is: Stop-Get Ready-Go! The conference takes place on Thursday, October 31st. CLICK HERE to find out more and download conference materials.

  • The Leadership Series: We coordinate a year-long Leadership Series training for individuals who have a developmental disability, families and support staff. Class members learn how to become leaders, both in their own lives and in society. They have the opportunity to put these new skills to use as the hosts for Rhode Island's Annual Statewide Self-Advocacy meeting which takes place each Spring.

  • The Leadership Academy: In the Spring of 2014 we will launch the Advocates in Action RI Leadership Academy! The Academy is being developed with the input of Leadership Series graduates. Plans are for a multi-year learning experience that will be available to all of our graduates. While the Series is a great introduction to some basic elements of leadership, the Academy will be the opportunity to study topics in depth. The Academy will also help prepare graduates to become Mentors for the current Leadership Series class and facilitators for future classes.
    In addition, members of the Academy will be invited to join our speakers bureau and recommended for membership in a variety of boards and committees. Eventually, our vision is that the Leadership Academy also supports individuals along their pathway to employment.
  • Rhode Island's Statewide Self-Advocacy Meeting. We host this annual event and support members of our Leadership Series to organize and facilitate the Meeting. It's their opportunity to practice the skills they've learned in class, while teaching others about a specific topic. The meeting takes place each Spring. The number of attendees has grown over the years. Approximately 350 people attend the annual event.

  • "This is Us": We began this disability awareness program in 1998. Since then, we have shared it with thousands of students in grades K-12, colleges and university, as well as bringing it to support agencies to help train new staff members. Click here to download an information flyer and find out how to invite This is Us to your school!

  • Accessible Materials: We design and adapt materials in a variety of formats to help people understand issues related to Self-Advocacy. Information is POWER, but you need to be able to understand it if you're going to use it. By making material accessible, we are working towards our mission of empowering so they can advocate for themselves.

  • Local Self-Advocacy Groups: We support local Self-Advocacy groups by sharing materials and event information, connecting groups around the state, offering advice and guidance to local members and their advisors, and providing speakers to share at meetings.

  • Individual Stories: We help individuals to capture their stories in a variety of formats including photos, multimedia, "About Me Boxes" and more. There is a lot of POWER in a personal story! By helping people who have a developmental disability to share their own story, we are empoweing people, while working towards our mission of raising disability awareness in the community.

  • Informational Website: We offer training and resource materials for the community in a variety of formats on our website.

  • Independent Filmmaking: We work on a variety of different projects each year that are in line with our mission. We are currently in the production stages of the documentary film "Best Judgment: Ladd School Lessons", and are running a funding campaign on the crowdsource site to support this importantproject. Click here to find out more and please help us spread the word!

    "Best Judgment" will tell the story of our states former institution for people with developmental disabilities, but it will be unique because it is being produced by a Self-Advocacy organization. We are thrilled to be working with academy award nominated documentary film producer Jim Wolpaw, along with the award winning Harken Productions on this project, but most importantly, we are working with, and being guided by former, Ladd school residents and individuals who might be in the institution if it were still open today.

  • Film Crew: In 2012 we recruited graduates of our Leadership Series who were interested in film production to join our Advocates in Action RI film crew. Five individuals are currently involved in a type of Service Learning experience that we have developed in association with Harken Productions. Crew members are currently involved in the production of Best Judgment, while also learning various aspects of film production including camera work, interview techniques, lighting and more.

  • RIde the Wave 2000: In 2000 we hosted the National Self-Advocacy conference with the support of agencies from around Rhode Island and our partners at PAL. RIDE the Wave was also the bi-annual meeting for the national organization Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE). More than 1,200 attended!

  • NEAT: We helped form North East Advocates Together in 1998. NEAT is a coaltion of statewide SA organizations from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.
  • Community Building Events: We host several community building events each year. Our average attendance is 220-240 people. In addition to having a good time together, these events also provide people the opportunity to connect and network, while raising disability awareness in the community. The events include:
    • The No Talent Show

    • The Statewide Self-Advocacy Group Holiday Party

    • The Beach Bash


CLICK HERE to download a 1 page flyer that describes what "Self-Advocacy" is all about.

This Page was updated on:
December 31, 2013