By Michelle A. Brown

Wildwood has always been committed to supporting students by maximizing opportunities for personal learning, growth, and development. In the summer of 2020, Wildwood received a grant from The Daniel and Susan Pfau Foundation to create a self-advocacy curriculum for students, ages 14-21 years old. Michelle Brown, Coordinator of Integration & Advocacy, and Melinda Burns, Director of Adult Education, have been collaborating with Wildwood School social workers and teachers in this venture to develop and implement the project.

By enhancing existing skills, the curriculum will assist students in understanding what advocacy is, how to use advocacy skills, and in empowering students to embrace the nuances of advocacy. Students can then apply these skills to help develop their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and their Life Plans in the future. 

Advocacy is not a concept or thought process for a particular time of life. Instead, it is on a continuum. We use these skills throughout every stage of our lives. Advocacy assists us to develop the life we want to live; to know and express what we like and what we don’t like. Through the self-advocacy curriculum, students will learn to explore and ask questions such as:

  • What do I want to do with my spare time?
  • Where do I want to work?
  • Where do I want to live?
  • With whom do I want to do these things?

By supporting students as they think about and advocate in regard to these life questions, they can live a life that they envision.