Self Advocacy

Self Advocacy is the platform from which people with disabilities can find their voice; speaking for their wants and needs, rights, and goals. Self Advocacy is the vehicle that drives the individual person to direct the life of their dreams.

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Self Advocacy

Self Advocacy is a civil rights movement that was created for and by people with developmental disabilities. Self Advocates want to: speak up for themselves, speak up for others, direct their own lives and life direction, make choices, have dreams, choose the services that they want, and understand their rights.


Self Advocates form groups to reach goals and to support one another. All rules, meeting times, meeting places, goals, actions and the group facilitator, are decided by the members of the group. Groups may make a set of rules for each group member to follow or elect officers for the group. Self Advocacy groups can be about disability rights, but can also be about anything the group is interested in like music or sports.


There are five active Self Advocacy groups at Heritage Centers: Allentown Oak Street, Allentown Hamburg, Allentown Tonawanda, Community/CAP, and Residential – Southtowns sites. Self Advocates rely on the support of dedicated staff to accomplish their goals and dreams. Staff play a very important role in helping Self Advocates accomplish their goals, whether assisting with transportation, or supporting a person in a community activity.


If you want to learn more about Self Advocacy, come to a meeting! Everyone is welcome! Here is a calendar of meetings and events.

Learn about Self Advocacy efforts throughout New York State here:


For more information call: Sarah DiChristina – Self Advocacy Specialist at 833-8603, ext. 2346 or email at

“I just started piano lessons with my teacher. I always wanted to learn piano. I also had an interview with the Angola Theater. I would have a job cleaning up there. I’m going to the Carrie Underwood concert in May. I asked my staff if she would go, so we’re having dinner first and then going to the concert! I spoke up for myself to do these things. I have a new reading goal that I like, too." – Bob Edwards, Oak Street

Self Advocacy

News & Events

Self Advocates Attend Bullying Abuse Prevention Conference

Members of our Self-Advocacy group attended the University at Buffalo Alberti Center's "Bullying and People with Disabilities: Challenges and Opportunities." Attendees were able to bring back a great deal of what they learned to share with the group! Learn More

Self Advocates Participate in the Agency New-Hire Orientation Process

Self Advocates are a part of New Hire Orientation! Each Self Advocate has a different way of giving information to new staff. Congratulations to the Self-Advocates who have helped so far! Learn More