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Self-Advocate Discussion Series

Why is NCCDD funding this initiative?Goal 3 of the new Five Year Plan: Increase advocacy for individuals with I/DD.

NCCDD has the need to attract, prepare, organize and mobilize NC self-advocates for influencing social and systems change. More NC self-advocates interested in advocating the value of people with disabilities are needed to actively build and maintain relationships with NC legislators and decision-makers. In addition, self-advocates will be supported to develop working relationships and a network among themselves.

What are the major goals and objectives?

The NCCDD sponsors a monthly NC self-advocate discussion series facilitated by the NCCDD Policy Education Coordinator, NCCDD self-advocate executive committee members, and additional coordinated participation by other NCCDD self-advocate members and staff. One-hour discussion sessions occur monthly. The discussion series is coordinated by NCCDD Advocacy Development Committee staff and by the NCCDD Policy Education Coordinator with support from NCCDD administrative staff, and the Hispanic Advocate initiative staff.

Each session is dedicated to addressing one IDD advocacy topic. Facilitators provide background on the topic and support attendees to share personal stories related to the topic. Sessions aim to be practice forums for using personal stories to build relationships with NC decision-makers and legislators. Experts, trainers, and decision-makers are invited to designated sessions to offer approaches for accessing, conversing, and following up with legislators and policymakers. 

What activities will this initiative set out to do?

Sessions share and hear stories of lived experience & meet NC Self-Advocate leaders & topic experts. Sessions are dedicated to sharing topic oriented personal stories, NC self-advocate network relationship building, NCCDD Awareness, and just being with others who have common interests. Expect sharing and hearing personal stories of lived experience about topics important to IDD advocacy. Join the conversation, spend time with others who have common interests, and become part of the NCCDD community. Sessions balance training, knowledge sharing, and attendee participation to convey the best ways to use our personal stories to discuss topics important to IDD advocacy. 

What long-term changes are expected as a result of this initiative?

Since Nov. 2021 start:  

25      # of Self-Advocate Discussion Series sessions held

697    # of People Registered in FFY 2022 to attend sessions (includes duplicates and staff)

1,059 # of People Registered in FFY 2023 to attend sessions (includes duplicates and staff)

380    # of People Registered in FFY 2024 to attend sessions (includes duplicates and staff)

295    # of People Registered to date self-identified as person with IDD (includes duplicates)

18      # of Topics discussed at series sessions (e.g., Valuable Principle, Voting, How to talk to Legislators, Employment, Anniversaries: ADA, DD Act, NDEAM, Transportation, DSP Crisis/Waiting List, Emergency Preparedness, and more. 

How can I get involved? 

Contact Melissa Swartz, Systems Change Manager, [email protected] for more information on becoming involved in one or more of the above elements.

Who can I contact for questions?

NCCDD: Melissa Swartz, Systems Change Manager, [email protected]

Additional Resources

Click here to download a one pager of this initiative.


The webinars are held on the third Wednesday of the month at 1 pm ET.  For more information, including how to register, visit our Self-Advocate Discussion Series page.

Watch the previous discussion series. 



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North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities

Office Hours: 9AM-4PM Monday-Friday
1-800-357-6916 (Toll Free)
984-920-8200 (Office/TTY)
984-920-8201 (Fax)
This project was supported, in part by grant number 2001NCSCDD-02, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.

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