HSRN group photo in front of Union Station

HSRN group photo in front of Union Station

For some people, self-advocacy comes naturally. But many of us need to be taught skills to help us become strong self-advocates. This is especially true of people with disabilities. 

Our states, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas, each have a group or groups that strive to spread self-advocacy among people with disabilities, whom we call “self-advocates.”

Learn more about self-advocacy

The Heartland Self-Advocacy Resource Network (HSRN) is giving us a chance to see our states, our self-advocacy education efforts, and ourselves from new perspectives. As Heartland partner states, we’re helping each other see strengths and weaknesses we didn’t appreciate or identify before. Even more importantly, we’re helping each other make new plans for outreach and solve problems our states are facing.

The goal of HSRN is to reach more self-advocates in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa, offering them regional opportunities for mentoring, training, and leadership development.

Learn more about HSRN

This website serves as our virtual HSRN Technical Assistance Center and as a way for us to share the resources we gather and produce through this project. We hope the information you find here is useful for you and others who are building self-advocacy throughout the nation and beyond.

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“Video: Jeff Johnson talks about what being a self-advocate means and his goals for the future.”

Where are we in our project’s progress?–

We are in the beginning of our second year of the project.  This past August we had self-advocate leaders and supporters from Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas all come together to learn from each other and share our progress in Kansas City, MO.  We were able to share what our successes in enhancing self-advocacy in our states as well as problem-solve together to overcome issues like engaging youth and collaborating with non-traditional partners.  We will be posting our state plans as soon as they are finished to share our plans and get ideas from the other states as we track our progress!

Collaboration for our self-advocacy enhancement efforts in the state are through the leadership of the Iowa UCEDD and the statewide Arc Chapter. In addition, the needs and state plan completion are being conducted with the Iowa Statewide Independent Living Council and Lisa Heddens, State Representative of the Iowa House of Representatives and ranking member of the Health and Human Services Committee and long term advocate. State team will distribute information and coordinate with through a variety of programs such as: The DD Council, The Iowa Statewide Independent Living Council, the ARC of Iowa and its Chapters, the ASK Resource Center, Pear Action Disability Supports (PADS and the University of Iowa.

The leaders of Self-Advocacy Coalition of Kansas are partnering with the Arc of Douglas County and Kansas DD Council to conduct focus groups across the state and at our Statewide conference to gather needs for our state self-advocacy capacity building plan. The Needs Assessment Planning Committee consists of one support staff, one community volunteer, and 7 self advocates. We have been meeting regularly to determine focus group questions, survey questions, and the delivery system for each. We will be reaching out to several groups of people in our needs assessment process including self advocates, support staff, service providers and community allies. Our main partners are the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities (KCDD), the Disability Rights Center (DRC, our state P&A), The Arc of Douglas County and Interhab, a statewide I/DD service provider organization.

Missouri’s efforts are coordinated by a leadership team comprised of the People First of Missouri President and self-advocate leaders, leadership from the Missouri UCEDD at the UMKC Institute for Human Development. We have surveyed self-advocates from throughout the state through emails and in-person facilitated sessions at our statewide self-advocacy meetings and our statewide conference. Our state leadership team will meet in July to begin to put together our state plan to enhance self-advocacy in Missouri.

Nebraska has formed a cross-disability steering committee to complete the tasks of the first year of the HRSN project, including developing a survey for self-advocates in Nebraska about how they advocate for themselves, barriers to self-determination, and how others have and can support their self-advocacy. This committee will also develop a plan for disseminating this survey through PFN chapters, provider agencies, and other self-advocacy organizations. The committee includes representatives from the mental health advocacy community, advocates with physical disabilities, adolescent and adult advocates on the autism spectrum, and representatives from western and northern Nebraska. Collaborating organizations include People First of Nebraska, the Munroe-Meyer Institute (Nebraska UCEDD), the Nebraska Statewide Independent Living Council, Autistic Women’s Advocacy Network, Special Olympics Leadership Program, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Nebraska. We anticipate that the Nebraska HRSN steering committee will meet in late May and again in late August.