At Access Living, we take pride in supporting our grassroots leaders with disabilities. Our Chicago disability advocacy community is vibrant and diverse. We believe in the capacity of ordinary folks with disabilities to speak truth to power and win social change. We also believe that advocacy liberates the human spirit. For more than 30 years, Chicago grassroots disability advocates have truly lived the South African saying “Nothing About Us Without Us!”
Zorytza Rodriguez was a member of AYLP and the Women and Girls Organizing Group. She was recognized by the city as an unsung leader.
Together, our group leaders also meet quarterly through our Access Living people's coalition, Power to the People (PtP), for leadership development and community sharing. The Advocacy Department's community organizers currently support seven grassroots groups led by consumers:
Advance Youth Leadership Power (AYLP): Young people with disabilities ages 16–24 organize and educate on issues affecting young adults. Staff contact: Candace Coleman, (312) 640–2128 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
YIELD: A workshop for youths ages 16-24 to learn what it takes to be a leader, for yourself and for the community. The workshop covers disability culture and history; how to stand up for your individual rights; and how to make the community better for people with disabilities. Staff contact: Candace Coleman, (312) 640–2128 or email@example.com .
Cambiando Vidas (Changing Lives): Latinos with disabilities organize for community supports and disability education in the Latino community. Staff contact: Michelle Garcia, (312) 640–2194 or firstname.lastname@example.org (se habla Español).
Disability Justice and Mentoring Collective (DJMC): Teens with disabilities are paired with adult mentors to develop disability pride and self-advocacy skills. Staff contact: Elisha Nightingale, 312-640-2131, email@example.com
Disability Rights Action Coalition for Housing (DRACH): DRACH fights for housing rights for people with disabilities, especially those in public housing. DRACH meetings on the fourth Thursday of the month. Staff contact: Cathleen OBrien, (312) 640-2160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disabled Americans Want Work Now (DAWWN): DAWWN fights for employment rights related to vocational rehabilitation and other employment programs. Staff contact: Adam Ballard, (312) 640–2195 or email@example.com
Empowered Fe Fes: Girls and women with disabilities campaign on disability issues through a gender perspective. Staff contact: Fulani Thrasher, (312) 640–2190 or FThrasher@accessliving.org .
Task Force on Attendant Services(TFAS, pronounced “tough ass”): People with disabilities and personal attendants mobilize together for the right to home and community based services.
Staff contact: Tom Wilson, (312) 640–2125 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Independent Voices: Independent Voices is an advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of people who residing in Nursing Homes. People who are currently in nursing homes or people who have moved out of nursing homes are eligible for membership. Staff contact: Tom Wilson, (312) 640–2125 or email@example.com .