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Commonwealth Council on Developmental Disabilities

Self-Advocacy

​​Empowerment through Self-Advocacy

CCDD empowers Self-Advocates with training, awareness activities, and networking. By empowering persons with developmental disabilities and their families to both advocate for themselves and seek long-term solutions through systems change, CCDD creates an environment of self-sufficiency, self-determination, inclusion, and acceptance.

Current Self Advocate Initiatives

Zoom Group DiscoverU

DiscoverU is an Empowerment and Education Self-Advocacy and Awareness Program for Individuals with disabilities. DiscoverU consists of two major components: the DiscoverU Community Group with monthly meetings and, DiscoverU In-School Program.. DiscoverU is founded on the belief that you know yourself best; you can set yourself up for success by knowing who you are, your likes, dislikes, wants, and needs.

The DiscoverU Community Group empowers individuals with disabilities, 14 and up, to become independent, active members of their community through education, awareness, and advocacy. DiscoverU provides the platform in which all individuals with disabilities are given the freedom to create, explore, and realize their journey by exploring themselves, their community, and the opportunity for community engagement, volunteering, and leadership.

The DiscoverU In-School is a self-advocacy program for students with disabilities in high school designed to assist individuals in preparing themselves for post-secondary life. The self-advocacy program began in a single high school during the 2015-2016 school year. In 2017, OVR approved self-advocacy programs for Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). In 2021-2022, as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, ZG's DiscoverU In-School program is conducted in 16 Jefferson County Public Schools and two schools outside of Jefferson County. DiscoverU In-School meets eight months during the school year (scheduled based on specific school). Each school year, DiscoverU provides sessions such as Self-Awareness, Self-Determination, Rights and Responsibilities, Self-Advocacy, Social Skills, Personal Relationships, Independent Living Skills, Workplace Behaviors, Problems and Responsibilities, Financial Literacy, other essential topics. E.g., current events that participants raise.

The power of DiscoverU and its uniqueness, and debatably its most crucial aspect, lies in the use of Peer Mentoring and peer support, a founding principle of IL. Peer Mentors [PM] with disabilities assist students in developing the skills and insights they need for their post-school life. The PMs share their struggles, triumphs, and dreams with the participants. They offer advice and support. They augment the efforts of the ZG’s DiscoverU Program Manager in presenting the curriculum, and they serve as ongoing positive role models to students for life after school.
The peer mentors receive a stipend for their assistance with the program.

For more information on Zoom Group visit Zoom Group

To learn more about DIscoverU contact Melissa Marvel at mmarvel@zoomgroup.org​.


Kentucky Partners in Policymaking 

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The goal of Kentucky Partners in Policymaking (KPIP) is to accomplish productive partnerships between the people needing and utilizing services and those who form public policy. KPIP was founded on the belief that the most significant and lasting public policy decisions came from the efforts of those most affected by them, working together with public officials and policy experts. KPIP educates participants about present issues and best practices and teaches them about local, state and federal levels legislative processes of policymaking. The program sessions cover and are dedicated to specific topics presented by nationally known experts in their fields. Topics include History of Disabilities & Services, Inclusive Education, Kentucky’s Legislative Process, Social Engagement, Community Organizing, and Systems Change Advocacy. KPIP classes start annually and run for 9 months. 

More information on the KPIP Program - Click Here or email Nicole Maher at nicole.maher@ky.gov​


Exceptional Family Magazine

"Exceptional Family Ky," is a free statewide magazine that made its debut February 1, 2009, in time for the 874K Conference in Frankfort. This reader-friendly publication has one mission --Empowerment. This magazine offers compelling, first-person accounts by the true experts in the field -- the people experiencing these issues on the front lines. The magazine features stories that appeal to both self-advocates and family members. A statewide resource guide is published in every magazine. 

Click the cover below to view the magazine online. If you have story ideas, would like to be included in the resource guide, or would like to subscribe to the magazine please contact: ccdd@ky.gov 

Boy with mask on sitting at a desk in a classroom


If you are interested in future advocacy events, 
please contact Nicole Maher- Nicole.Maher@ky.gov or 502-226-0784