What do a push, joined hands, and a belly rub have in common? They each represent a different form of power — power over, power with, and power within.
For our latest session of Advocating Change Together’s Self-Advocacy course, Kayla, Megan, and I sat in a circle at the Augsburg Library and talked about power. We shared moments when we have felt pushed around, and moments when we have felt powerful and strong in ourselves and alongside other people.
Megan offered that she has felt low when other people have talked behind her back, and connected and assertive when standing alongside a friend to back them up. Kayla and Megan came up with the physical movements — pushing, joining hands, and rubbing our bellies — to go along with the three forms of power in our lives, putting their own twist on the course’s teachings. Today we left knowing that together our voices are powerful!
Each week, we open by reviewing our previous session or sharing something that is important to us. Kayla loves cracking jokes with her friends at CIP, and Megan is a creative journal maker. Our aim is to grow as individuals and as a group to be strong advocates for our needs and our human rights and dignities as people on this planet. In the last two months, we have visited the Capitol twice to hear legislators and policymakers speak to our needs and the next steps we must take in St. Paul. We communicated assertively with a restaurant cashier at Smash Burger at Southdale Mall. We have practiced asking for help, notably in a dramatic and memorable scene where the actress needed to go to the hospital urgently to give birth. We have dug into our human rights assessments to seek out areas for growth and change in our lives. And we are just getting started!
In the final few weeks of the course, we will schedule meetings with our legislators to share posters about why person-centered programs are critical to our lives, talk about different leadership strengths and styles, recognize how we are leaders already and how we can expand ourselves as leaders, and celebrate our growth over the last months.
A huge thanks to Betty DeWitt, Shauna Cropsey, Brian Daniels, and Patrick Mitchell for their support in getting ACT’s Self-Advocacy conversations off the ground in Bloomington CES! There’s so much I need to learn as a support for these conversations, but I am grateful for their trust in giving the class a whirl.
Author and photo credits: Caroline “Sheff” Sheffield, Lead Coordinator, Community Engagement Services