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

“Self Advocacy helps me because I was upset and fighting with my house mate. My friends (in Self Advocacy Group) told me I should tell someone like staff or the manager to help. I spoke up for myself to my house manager. She talked to both of us and we are working it out. We are getting along now. I want to help other people to get along with their house mates.” – Gary Jones, Oak Street

Self Advocacy

News & Events

Self Advocates Choose Group Names

Both the Tonawanda and Hamburg sites have decided on names for their Self Advocacy groups. The Tonawanda site has chosen “We Are the People.” The Hamburg site is now named “Freedom Fighters Self Advocacy.” Learn More

Self Advocates Graduate from Intensive Training Course

On June 23rd, thirteen Self Advocates graduated from an eight section training course offered by the Self Advocacy Association of New York State, called SANYS U. Learn More