How to start a Local Self

Report
Starting & Running A People
First Chapter
Kevin Smith
Self-Advocate Coordinator
People First of WV
[email protected]
304-422-3151, ext. 102
1-877-334-6581
Funded by: West Virginia Developmental Disabilities Council
In starting and supporting a selfadvocacy group, it is important for
the members to learn and use a
process for working together and
getting things done.
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It is also important for selfadvocates to be responsible for
teaching others the process, to
assume leadership roles, and to
be in control of the goals that the
group develops by working
together.
3
During all of this, the self-advocacy
group must be able to include
people with a wide range of
disabilities so that everyone can
participate and be a valued group
member.
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Should We or Shouldn’t We?

Make sure everyone knows what
People First is
Handouts & discussion on SelfAdvocacy
 “Is there a need for a selfadvocacy group?
 “Why would people with disabilities
want to get involved?”

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Should We or Shouldn’t We?

Find out how other People First
groups work and learn from
them
Call or write other groups
 Visit other groups or invite them to
visit you
 Ask other groups to send you
information
 Decide what works and what
doesn’t work for your group

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Successful People First Group:
First Steps

Identify group support
Volunteer or paid advisor?
 Agency staff?


Contact People First of WV
Technical Assistance
 Chapter Start-up Handbook
 Trainings for Advisors and Officers
 Sample Flyers and Promotional
items

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Successful People First Group:
Next Steps

Set up an organizing committee
Outline roles & responsibilities of
organizers
 Review role of the advisor/helper
 Identify co-sponsors who can help
you get started
 Determine who will be in charge
until elections are held

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Successful People First Group:
The Advisor

Make sure the members vote to
approve the advisor and make
sure the advisor knows what
they are supposed to do.

It helps if the advisor has some
experience helping people organize
into groups and knows and
respects people with
developmentally disabilities.
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Successful People First Group:
The Advisor

Chapter members should train the
advisor and make up a contract on
what the advisor is suppose to do.


The advisor and the members should
sign the contract.
If problems come up members should
always communicate directly with the
advisor and try and work it out.
Advisors are people too and should be
given a chance to learn, grow and
change.
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Successful People First Group:
Next Steps

Arrange the details of
organization
When and where to meet:
Accessibility
 Publicity: letting people know
when, where, and why
 Transportation
 Refreshments

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Successful People First Group:
Group Detail - Hints




Find an accessible place to meet that
is close to bus lines and is not where
the members live or work.
Make sure the day and time you meet
is good for everyone and that it is not
when people are already involved in
other things.
Make up a “flyer” or meeting notice
and put these up in group homes,
workshops and other places.
Put the phone number of someone to
call for more information on the flyer.
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Successful People First Group:
Next Steps

Decide on rules for how the group
members will work together






Meeting rules
By-laws
Membership Dues
Election of officers
Everyone is an equal member
How will the meeting topics be
determined?
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Successful People First Group:
Election of Officers - Hints

Don’t elect officers for two or three
meetings.




Gives everyone a chance to speak and
get to know the other members before
you vote.
When you do elect officers, have the
people running for office give a speech
Put pictures of the people who are
running for office on the ballot box
This makes it easier for people to
decide who to vote for.
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Successful People First Group:
Meeting Rules - Hints

Get everyone involved in the group



Make sure that everyone gets a chance to
speak and participate during the meeting.
Is important to share power so that
everyone feels like an important and equal
member
Use easy to understand words and
pictures during the meetings


Make sure everyone understands
what is going on during the meetings
Make sure everyone understands
what is being voted on before
you vote on things
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Successful People First Group:
Meeting Rules - Hints

As a group, make rules for how the
group will work.


Examples of rules include: Only one
person speaks at a time, how to vote to
decide on things, etc
Keep members interested and wanting
to take part


Make the discussion in the meetings
real - meaning that the
discussions must be about things
that are important to the members
Each group has to decide what
is real and important to them
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Successful People First Group:
Meeting Rules - Hints

End of the meeting


Always thank everyone for coming
and make sure they know when the
next meeting is before you adjourn
Hand out calendars so everyone will
know when the next meeting is
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Successful People First Group:
Team Spirit

Develop a “team spirit”




Make sure there is a place and something
for everyone at the meetings. Everyone
should feel like they are an important part
of the group
Everyone should agree on what the group
is about
All members should feel that
people listen to what they
have to say
A working friendship between the
members should be developed
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Successful People First Group:
Have Fun!

Have FUN!



Don’t make the meetings all “hard
work.” Go out and eat together, go on
a camping trip together, do fun things
together
Don’t let the meetings get boring
Have refreshments and a “social
time” at the end of the meetings
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Successful People First Group:
Setting Goals

Decide on goals and issues for the
group



Every group needs goals so everyone will
know what the meetings are all about
and what the group is trying to do
Important for members to decide on the
goals for the group
Set realistic goals for your group.

It’s important for your group to have
success right at the very beginning so
everyone will feel good about the group
and themselves
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Successful People First Group:
Reaching Goals

Decide how to reach the goals




Small groups – ask for volunteers to
complete specific tasks
Larger groups - Set up some
committees with more than one
person
Committees give everyone a chance
to have responsibilities and feel like
an important part of the group.
Evaluate how well the group is
doing and make changes where
needed
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Successful People First Group:
Growing the Group



Develop connections/links and “allies”
between the group and the community to
increase the presence and participation of
the group and group members in
community life and decision making
Develop a process to decide how the
group will change and expand over time
(coalitions, state organization, etc.).
Talk with your friends about what self
advocacy is and encourage them to meet
with your group.
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Successful People First Group:
Problem Solving




All groups have “ups” and “downs” and
will have problems at times.
One of the most important things to
keep a group going over time is to
face problems head on.
Problems don’t just go away on their
own—you have to face them and try to
work them out
When your group has problems,
remember to give people a
chance to grow and change
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Successful People First Group:
Problem Solving


Most people have never had the
experience of being part of a selfadvocacy group where they get to
make the decisions and solve
problems on their own.
Sometimes, it is hard to be a selfadvocate, and people need time
and understanding to work out
problems and grow as a group.
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Successful People First Group:
It’s Important to Work Together
Starting and supporting a successful
self-advocacy group is a process
that takes lots of careful planning
and thinking.
Members and advisors must work
together to establish a strong
foundation so the group will
continue to grow stronger.
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