Support the Self-Advocacy Movement in Florida this Giving Tuesday
Updated: Nov 29, 2022
No organization has contributed more to the growth of the self-advocacy movement in Florida than Florida Self-Advocates Network’D, or as most people know us, FL SAND.
With our 15 grassroots groups in Florida that span from the western panhandle to Miami-Dade County and our state board of directors, FL SAND provides opportunities for people with disabilities to not only learn about self-advocacy, but to practice these skills by solving disability-related problems in their communities.
Your gift on Giving Tuesday will help the good work of FL SAND to continue, particularly in providing training in self-determination, self-advocacy, and leadership, not just to FL SAND members but for self-advocates throughout the state of Florida. FL SAND is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and your donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.
The three stages to becoming an effective self-advocate are knowing yourself, knowing your needs, and knowing how to skillfully ask for and acquire what you need. Many individuals started their self-advocacy journey because of challenging circumstances where they were forced to speak up for themselves, developing self-determination and self-advocacy skills in the process. Some had parents or a mentor to support this process and some also became involved with organizations like FL SAND where they received support, training, and opportunities for growth.
FL SAND’s impact on the lives of its members is best conveyed through personal stories, like those of Jason Hahr and Lauren Eakin. Because of the dedication of his mother who encouraged him to set goals and work to achieve them, Jason considers himself a life-long self-advocate. His skills were put to the test in college where Jason’s career goal after earning a bachelor’s degree was to be a high school history and drama teacher. Participating in the degree program required requesting accommodations so he could receive the same education as his peers. Most of the accommodations were related to technology, large print, captions, etc., and were provided thanks to the folks in the disability resource office at his college.
Although his college responded well to his self-advocacy efforts during his coursework, things changed when it was time for his student teaching requirement. Believing he would not be able to teach effectively in a classroom setting because of his disability, the education department would not give him a student teaching assignment and eventually waived the fieldwork requirement. Jason did receive his bachelor’s degree and went on to get a master’s degree in education, but the traumatic experience of having his goal of teaching thwarted after spending three years working on his degree inspired him to join FL SAND in 2016 as a correspondent for Florida Self-Advocacy Central. Jason uses his writing skills to educate and help others with disabilities who need to find their voices and speak out when faced with exclusion. His involvement with FL SAND has also been instrumental in making connections and growing his network as a self-advocate. He currently serves as a founding leader of Florida’s REV-Up chapter and is a FL SAND Fellow where he trains self-advocates and mentors a local group leader.
Lauren Eakin found her advocacy voice as the result of helping a friend whose primary means of communication was using her eyes to convey “yes” or “no” to questions. This friendship went on to inspire a greater desire to advocate for herself and others with disabilities. Because of her involvement with FL SAND’s Clay County Change Makers group in Orange Park, and later the statewide FL SAND board of directors, Lauren’s self-advocacy skills, accomplishments, and confidence continues to grow. She was instrumental in drawing the attention of Orange Park’s mayor and social media to the misuse of playground equipment for people with disabilities at a local park. She is active on several FL SAND committees and is currently advocating for herself by writing a letter to her insurance company who turned down her request for a power wheelchair.
Other self-advocates like Lauren and Jason will benefit from your Giving Tuesday donation to FL SAND. Please click here to go directly to our donation page. If you’d like your gift to go to a specific local group, please put the group’s name in the PayPal donation note. Donations will be used to train people with disabilities in Florida through FL SAND’s Breaking Barriers Training Academy. Again, FL SAND is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and your donations are tax deductible. To learn more about FL SAND, head to FLSAND.org.