Inclusion Ireland hosted a self-advocacy event as part of the Abhainn Ri Festival in Callan, Kilkenny, on Thursday the 6th of July.
The event consisted of self-advocates Paul Alford, Martin Rowan, Sarah-Jane Lavin and Dermot Lowndes from Inclusion Ireland’s self-advocacy subcommittee. They were joined by local self-advocate Kathleen Gittens. All shared their experiences of self-advocacy and speaking up for themselves. This fitted in nicely with the theme of the festival - ‘public declaration’.
The day was introduced and chaired throughout the day by Martin. In the morning session, Kathleen gave the audience an account of her personal experience of self-advocacy throughout her life. This was followed by Dermot giving his experiences of what self-advocacy is and different ways you could speak up for yourself. Sarah-Jane then talked about the importance of accessible information and how this can help people understand and then speak up for themselves.
The afternoon session started with a short film showing the making of The M House, which is a play by Equinox Theatre in Callan about anyone who has ever been stuck in a box. The day then ended with an interview with Paul Alford on his experiences of community living and his journey to living independently in the community.
Paul Alford said, "It was important to get the message out to people with intellectual disabilities who live in Kilkenny. We want to encourage more people to speak up for themselves and learn about self-advocacy. We want more people to live in the community and live the life they want."
The day was a big success with a lot of participation from the audience. There was some great discussion and questions throughout the day with everyone learning a lot from each other about what self-advocacy is and the different ways people can speak up for themselves.
We would like to say a big thank you to everyone involved in the Abhainn Ri Festival for inviting us down and having us as part of their festival.