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In Partnership with People On the Go
Kara Paseka, Undergraduate Intern, Towson University
People On the Go (POG) is a group of advocates with intellectual and developmental disabilities who use their voices to be heard and recognized on matters pertaining to individuals with disabilities. POG is a proponent of self-advocacy, which is a way for people to speak up for themselves and stand up for what they believe. Self-advocacy groups, such as POG, help bring people together in the belief that there is power in numbers. POG’s philosophy is that all people should be active participants in their communities, and they strive to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability. POG began in 1994 as a Maryland statewide self-advocacy group, and it has been a driving force behind legislative changes in the state. Maryland currently has at least 10 active local county groups, but the goal is to have one in each of Maryland’s 24 counties.
As a student intern working with POG, I see the importance of individuals with disabilities having their own voice and being active, independent members of society. If individuals with disabilities let others speak for them, their voices will not directly be heard. In order to make a difference and have the greatest chance of success, the individuals who feel the strongest about a particular idea are the ones who need to advocate for that idea.
Self-advocacy entails not only having a voice, but also using that voice to give your own thoughts and opinions, and letting others know what you think and desire. Being independent is an important aspect of one’s life and allows each of us to create our own experiences and memories. Through a myriad of activities, including community participation, legislative involvement, speaking publicly about self-advocacy, and providing community education, POG advocates for individuals with disabilities to become their own self-advocates, taking control of their own lives and making a difference in the lives of others.
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