The New Jersey Self-Advocacy Project
The New Jersey Self-Advocacy Project was established in 1983 in to challenge individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to become involved in events, legislative policies, and issues that positively affect their lives or lives of others with disabilities. Coming together as a network, is used as means of supporting positive change on both a personal and social level. The New Jersey Self-Advocacy Network consists of five Councils based on geographic location within the state. Here is the Council breakdown by counties served:
Council 1 -- Sussex. Warren, Morris, & Hunterdon
Council 2 -- Union, Essex, Bergen, Passaic & Hudson
Council 3 -- Middlesex, Somerset, Mercer, Ocean & Monmouth
Council 4 -- Burlington, Camden & Gloucester
Council 5 -- Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland & Salem
The Councils meet on a monthly basis and are open and free to all individuals with disabilities. The New Jersey Self-Advocacy Project Team collaborates with the Council chairperson to create an agenda based on what the self-advocates wish to discuss. These meetings are a chance for advocates to voice their perspective, socialize, and to practice standing up for themselves and their rights.
Self-Advocates testify in Trenton regarding budget decisions and legislation, and they also celebrate and raise awareness during Disability Awareness Month in March. They write letters to people of prominence and elected officials applauding decisions or weighing in on issues. Advocates give input on many of the Division of Developmental Disabilities policy issues that affect their lives. During American with Disabilities Awareness Month (ADA) in July, self - advocates speak with beach-goers on the Point Pleasant boardwalk, about the importance and meaning of ADA. Finally, they come together, as a network for an annual luncheon and conference.
During the year, self-advocates are invited to attend Healthy Lifestyles workshops, planning and leadership discussions, voting workshops, maintaining healthy relationship activities, workshops about advocating for your employment rights, and many other seminars and training, as requested by agencies and individuals.
The Self Advocate: A bi-annual newsletter produced the New Jersey Self Advocacy Project (NJSAP) team. The Self Advocate contains registration information for two major events hosted by the New Jersey Statewide Self Advocacy Network: the Fall Conference and the Spring Into Action Luncheon. The publication also contains information about monthly meetings, training and educational opportunities, as well as, legislative advocacy efforts.
Advocacy Matters: A monthly e - newsletter geared to providing self - advocacy group advisors and network members with training tips and information about upcoming events, along with features of the most recent advocacy activities hosted by members of the New Jersey Statewide Self Advocacy Network, (NSSAN).