What we have done and what we can do
Down Turkey is currently working to train people with Down syndrome to become self-advocates and support them to start self-advocacy groups. DSi is acting as a consultant on self-advocacy and providing training and mentoring.
In December 2017 DSi ran a training programme in Istanbul for staff and volunteers from Down Turkey. The training covered all the essential skills and knowledge needed to become facilitators and support persons of self-advocacy groups.
In early 2018 the newly trained facilitators and support persons held their first self-advocacy group, with 11 people with Down syndrome. Since then they have met regularly and discussed topics including self-advocacy, their rights, the things they need, networks and communities, and topics they want to advocate on.
With the support of an MP, the group got a chance to make a speech at Turkish Parliament on 21st March - World Down Syndrome Day. They did the preparation for the speech on their own and decided that they would speak about independent living. They even held a press conference which was broadcast on all the main Turkish media channels. This was the first time that people with Down syndrome talked for themselves in front of such a big crowd.
About the project
Over the course of a year Down Turkey will:
- Learn how to train and support self-advocacy groups
- Establish a self-advocacy group of people with Down syndrome
- Support them to develop their skills and knowledge and begin to engage in advocacy work.
At the end of the first year Down Turkey aims to use their experience of supporting the first group to establish self-advocacy groups in cities across Turkey.
DSi is acting as a consultant on self-advocacy for this project. This involves:
- Adapting our self-advocacy training manual and curriculum for the Turkey context
- Delivering training in Istanbul over 4 days on effective support and facilitation of self-advocacy groups
- Providing ongoing mentoring to Down Turkey through the year as they work with their group
- Returning to Istanbul to deliver follow up training to address any arising issues or problems.
Potential impact of this project
For a person with Down syndrome self-advocacy is about developing their skills, knowledge and self-confidence to be able to engage with people effectively, take part in work or social situations, and understand their rights and responsibilities as citizens. It is also about taking action and advocating for change, whether at personal, local or national level. This can happen individually or as a group. For many people with Down syndrome self-advocacy has a profound impact on their lives – providing them with the confidence to take control and participate in their communities with confidence.