LIFEPlan member and Member and Family Advisory Council member, Ed Duryea was recently named the 2020 Self-Advocate of the Year at The Arc of Jefferson-St. Lawrence.
Self-Advocacy is learning how to speak up for yourself, making your own decisions about your own life, learning how to get information so that you can understand things that are of interest to you, finding out who will support you in your journey, knowing your rights and responsibilities, problem solving, listening and learning, reaching out to others when you need help and friendship, and learning about self-determination.
Ed works tirelessly to advocate concerns not only for himself but on behalf of others who may not be able to advocate themselves. A topic Ed is currently focused on is to ensure people living in IRA’s Stay Connected and have access to reliable internet service. This is especially important considering the pandemic has shifted meetings, socialization and appointments to be largely virtual.
For Ed, it doesn’t stop there. Here are just a few other advocacy activities he is involved in:
- Letter writing to Governor Cuomo advocating that services for people with disabilities stay intact.
- Support Instructor at staff orientations, teaching Direct Supports Professionals how to support self-advocates.
- Assisting in establishing new policies/procedures that promote better quality of life for people supported at the agency.
- Providing education regarding disabilities to volunteers and the public at Special Olympic events.
- Participating in community fundraisers, through his involvement, other peers and staff have also become involved.
Ed is passionate about the importance of self-determination, and stresses that everyone should make their own decisions. “Sometimes we all need support from people in our lives, but in the end it is our decision to be made for our lives,” Duryea said.
Congratulations Ed on your well-deserved award!