People we support, staff participate in widely respected self-advocacy initiative
This month, 25 people Monarch supports in Elizabeth City will participate in a training called Project STIR.
The acronym stands for Steps Toward Independence and Responsibility and is an initiative of the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The course offers trainings and assistance related to self-advocacy and includes hands-on activities, small group discussion and role play.
Project STIR collaborates with local, state, and national agencies and organizations to increase awareness of inclusion, self-advocacy and self-determination. The initiative teaches people with disabilities how to become self-advocates, so they are able to speak up for themselves.
Three who attend Monarch’s River City Achievement Center in Elizabeth City – Kermit Mullins, Missouri Harvey and Cleo Carver – took part in one of the trainings last year. They will assist Erma Brault, a Monarch operations director, who is leading the training for Monarch.
Brault said this program is important because it allows staff and people supported to partner on a practical level that benefits the people supported.
“This training teaches staff exactly how to search for and ask better questions of people supported. When we train together, everyone starts on the same page,” she explained.
Plus, Brault said she has learned the people supported don’t always know they have a voice or aren’t equipped to be able to make their needs known. But after participating in Project STIR they come away with the knowledge to speak up for themselves, and it creates a mutual understanding between staff and those they are serving.
Much of the training focuses on role play, setting goals and allowing each person to make a plan for tasks they hope to accomplish in the future. This was a vital part of the program for some of the people supported at Monarch.
Cleo Carver said because of what he learned during the training, people listen to him because he is able to better articulate and explain his needs. He said he also learned conflict resolution through the course’s role-play techniques and is now able to solve disputes and conflicts that have occurred between him and his roommate and family members.
“We all have to learn to communicate and ask for what we need and speak up for ourselves in this world,” Brault said. “Even simple things like ‘I don’t want burnt toast.’ I think it’s a great way for everyone to come together and talk about issues because if everyone starts on the same page, we are going to be better as staff and providing support to those we serve.”