Citizen Advocacy of Atlanta & DeKalb is a diverse community-based organization which creates and supports relationships between an ordinary citizen who is living a “good life” and a person with a developmental disability who is vulnerable to isolation or exploitation. We have initiated and supported these relationships in Atlanta and DeKalb County since 1977. Local people make up our board of directors and staff.
How does Citizen Advocacy Work?
A valued citizen, who is unpaid and independent of the human services system, is invited by citizen advocacy coordinators into relationship with a person who is living with a disability and is vulnerable to abuse, neglect, or social isolation.
With the coordinators’ support, the citizen advocate learns to understand, respond to, and represent that person’s interests as if they were the advocate’s own, thus bringing the person’s gifts and concerns into the circles of ordinary community life.
Friendship, social support, and social change can all emerge from these intentional relationships. By supporting these ongoing, potentially life-long, relationships, citizen advocacy fosters a community where all people’s gifts and talents can be shared and celebrated.
When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves. — William Arthur Ward
The priorities of Citizen Advocacy of Atlanta & DeKalb, Inc. in initiating citizen advocacy relationships are:
- Protect people who have developmental disabilities from, and pursue solutions for, incidents of abuse, neglect, and social exclusion
- Advocate on behalf of students with developmental disabilities for inclusive, quality education in their neighborhood schools
- Advocate on behalf of people with developmental disabilities for life in their communities, not in segregated programs, facilities, or institutions
- Advocate on behalf of people with developmental disabilities who have other human and legal rights concerns, e.g. financial exploitation, guardianship concerns, etc.
I have yet to encounter a safety net of laws, rules, regulations, and policies that was any stronger than a single, concerned and engaged person, standing shoulder to shoulder with a person, navigating the daily challenges of life in the community. — Clarence Sundram