Self Advocacy - Our Voice
Nothing about us, without us.
AKIM has evolved from a parent’s organization to the peoples’ organization, establishing and operating local self-advocacy groups since 2012. Participants with intellectual and developmental disabilities learn about their social and legal rights, gaining the skills necessary to express their needs and raise awareness in the community. Driven by the concept of nothing about us, without us, AKIM’s aim is to give a powerful voice to the individuals that need it most.
What is self-advocacy?
Self-advocacy is the action by which a person speaks about their desires, expresses their needs, and represents their personal interests, in order to exercise rights, obtain what is deserved, and/or improve one’s quality of life. Self advocacy is a basic human right, that’s anything but basic for individuals with special needs.
Seeking to empower each individual according to their abilities and understanding, AKIM established the first self advocacy group in Holon 14 years ago. Born from the core belief that all people, including those living with intellectual disabilities, have the same right and ability to decide on their lives, to choose and to act to achieve their goals.
Focusing on equality as a core value, AKIM’s self-advocacy groups are established in the Arab, Druze and Jewish sectors of Israeli society. Conferences dedicated to issues of interest to the self-advocates highlight key issues such as money management and financial independence, housing and employment, and benefits and rights for the individuals.
Who are the members of a self-advocacy group?
Self-advocacy groups consist of people with intellectual disabilities aged 21 and over who are literate. Group members are accompanied by a professional facilitator familiar with the world of disabilities and with training or education in a relevant field.
Together the group creates a long-term continuous framework in which representatives advocate and bring forth the desires, dreams and ambitions and group members, manifesting them into expression and realizing them in a joint activity.
AKIM’s team of facilitators are adept at creating eye-level-dialogues, with the belief in the power of all people. They act to encourage group members to dream out loud and to achieve step-by-step with sensitivity, maturity, flexibility, patience and positivity.
Why form a self-advocacy group?
Advocacy makes it possible to improve the lives of people with disabilities and others in their families and communities. Advocacy empowers people with disabilities and allows them to:
- Promote key issues affecting their lives and well-being
- Change a law, policy or practice that is unfair or ineffective to people with disabilities
- Raise awareness and foster acceptance and tolerance
- Create change and support within the community
Self-advocacy contributes to the social environment, creating awareness for the desires and needs of others. A person who utilizes self-advocacy has a tool to improve their quality of life and exercise rights. This act of independence boosts self-confidence and expressive abilities.
Our Voice Movement
Our Voice is AKIM’s national self-advocate movement. What began as an activity of several individual self-advocacy groups, has crystallized into a powerful movement driven by the spirit of: nothing about us without us.
The Our Voice movement, with an astonishing 42 groups of self-advocates, will have their launch event in 2023 at the Knesset. The event will include a panel of ambassadors of the advocate groups who will present initiatives of the group.
Conferences bring together participants of self-advocacy groups from across the country. They have contributed to the growth of a self-advocacy movement and have contributed greatly to its success.
The conferences tackle topics of interest to the self-advocates, highlighting key issues such as: financial management and independence, housing and employment, and benefits and rights for individuals with IDD, and more.
AKIM’s 3rd national self-advocates conference, Connecting 2022, brought together 300 self-advocates representing 38 groups from across the country. They reached new heights of optimism. The program recognized exceptional self-advocates and featured performances of music, dance and blessings from AKIM’s leadership. The conference was a huge success and an empowering source of inspiration for all those in attendance. Self-advocacy has come so far and Our Voice is committed to continue amplifying the voice of the individual through the support of AKIM.
AKIM’s Programs & Services
Through the department of Advocacy for Inclusion within the community, AKIM provides support and assistance in all aspects of life for people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
Support for Families
Going to work and feeling part of a significant daily activity is an important element of every person’s life; even more so, when the person has an intellectual disability.
Employment & Career
As part of AKIM’s vision of inclusion, it established a unique collaboration with one of the greatest tools for integration and solidarity in Israeli society, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
IDF Service: Equal in Uniform
AKIM sees creative expression and culture as keys to a healthy lifestyle and important elements of leading a meaningful life.
Culture & Leisure
Our Voice – Driven by the concept of nothing about us, without us, AKIM’s aim is to give a powerful voice to the individuals that need it most. Participants learn about their rights and gain the skills necessary to express their needs and raise awareness in the community.
AKIM firmly believes that every person has a basic right to live within the community, in a housing structure that suits his/her various and changing needs over the years.