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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 for the discussion series. The discussion series is coordinated by NCCDD Advocacy Development Committee staff and by the NCCDD Policy Education Coordinator with support from Cross-Cutting initiative and administrative staff, and the media relations initiative.

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?

Most sessions share and hear stories of lived experience & meet Self-Advocate Leaders of NCCDD.

Sessions are dedicated to sharing and developing goal and topic oriented personal stories, NC self-advocate network relationship building, NCCDD Awareness, and just being with others who have common interests. Expect fun, learning, and making new friends while sharing and hearing personal stories of lived experience about topics important to IDD advocacy. Join the conversation and spend time with others who have common interests and become part of the NCCDD community. 

Expert Panel Sessions: Policy and Social Change Advocacy

Policy experts discuss building and maintaining relationships with NC legislators and policymakers. An expert panel balances training, knowledge sharing, and attendee participation to teach the best ways to approach decision-makers and how to use our personal stories to discuss topics important toI/DD advocacy. 

Action Alert Sessions: (As Needed): What’s New? What’s Urgent? What’s on Your Mind? 

An Action Alert Session will be added to the format when 1) an advocacy topic suddenly emerges on a state or national level, or 2) when there is need to reschedule the expert panel session, or 3) when NC Self-Advocates just need a place to gather and talk about what is on their mind.  Attendees can describe their experiences of self-advocacy and advocating for others. This session can be used for attendees to describe different ways of using one’s voice to advocate. Come to this session ready to share stories about speaking up, speaking to groups calling, writing and speaking to decision-makers and representatives!

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

To prepare, organize and mobilize 50 NC self-advocates to engage in social and systems change. To support NC self-advocates to build and maintain relationships with NC legislators and decision-makers along with having a strong network among themselves.

How can I get involved? 

Contact Melissa Swartz, Systems Change Manager, Melissa.Swartz@dhhs.nc.gov 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, Melissa.Swartz@dhhs.nc.gov

Additional Resources

Click here to download a one pager of this initiative.


The webinars will be held on the third Wednesday of the month at 1 pm EDT. Register below!

Watch the previous discussion series. 



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North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities

1-800-357-6916 (Toll Free)
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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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