Since 1998, SANYS has successfully administered a project through AmeriCorps, a program of the National Service Corporation administered through the New York State Office of Volunteer and Community Service.
The mission of Self-Advocacy AmeriCorps is to assist individuals with developmental disabilities to become full and valued members of their communities.
Through this project, individuals with developmental and other disabilities work under the concept that “Our Experience is the Best Teacher”. Teams of AmeriCorps members make presentations on a number of topics to:
- students, both with and without disabilities
- people with disabilities interested in self-advocacy
- staff of support service agencies
- members of the general community
The purpose of these presentations is to promote the importance of self-advocacy for people with disabilities, general awareness of disability related issues, and to teach about the important gifts that people with disabilities have to offer which can only be received through full community inclusion and participation of all individuals in their own community.
The Self-Advocacy/AmeriCorps program addresses the basic need and right of people with disabilities to:
- Be included in all aspects of citizenship as full and contributing members of their communities
- Enrich their communities by their gifts and contributions
We accomplish this through three major educational efforts:
- Teaching people with disabilities (school age and adults) and others the basic aspects of self-advocacy and self-advocacy groups, including the rights, opportunities and responsibilities of citizenship and community participation.
- Teaching people with disabilities, their families and others about the options they have for community living, inclusion in all aspects of the community and opportunities for work and volunteer service.
- Promoting the concept of included community service throughout the system of supports provided by OPWDD and throughout all national and community service projects with a disability to be fully included member or volunteer of service opportunity.
All Self-Advocacy/AmeriCorps presentations are conducted by individuals with disabilities and are based on their experiences, dreams, hopes and abilities. Self-advocates have learned from years of experience that it is their voices, individually and collectively, that most effectively break down barriers and build bridges within their communities.
As an AmeriCorps program, SANYS receives funding to support the efforts of individuals who serve as AmeriCorps members. Members receive a modest living allowance as a stipend and are eligible for an educational award at the completion of their term of service.