El Paso Rehabilitation Center

Peer to Peer Self-Advocacy Training

Statewide Need
Not everyone has had the chance to develop the important skills required to be a successful self-advocate. Some individuals have had few opportunities to make their own choices and others have made most decisions for them. Many individuals who have learned self-advocacy through their life experiences and training have become effective self-advocates themselves, and are qualified to teach self-advocacy to others. Facilitating educational opportunities for self-advocates to train others can allow individuals to take more control of their lives, understand and protect their rights as citizens and consumers, and increase their active community participation.

Project Goal
Create a mentoring program for youth with disabilities to assist them in achieving their respective education and employment goals and aspirations.

Project Summary
Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center established the Training Tomorrow’s Mentors Today program (TTMT). A Project Advisory Committee (PAC) was formed to provide input for program activities and to actively support other aspects of the program, including attending training and mentoring sessions, field trips, and other program activities. Some PAC members with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) served as mentors, and others who represented key institutions volunteered resources from their institutions to program activities.

TTMT staff conducted training sessions and held monthly activities for participants. Following each training session, mentors and apprentices met to discuss program curriculum, exercises, or related activities. Monthly activity attendance was opened to those who were not fully enrolled in the program, allowing for wider participation in activities and providing program staff with the opportunity to identify future program participants. The types of events and activities held were of interest to younger persons with IDD, and most had an educational component intermixed with a recreational component. Events that generated large scale attendance included sky diving, karate, and self-defense exhibitions, as well as a musical presentation led by motivational speakers with IDD.

Program staff developed relationships with institutions in the region, including high schools representing 12 school districts, institutions of higher education, local businesses, social service agencies, healthcare, and service providers. These institutions provided with volunteer assistance as well as support for the program and project related activities.

  • Impact
    • 59 training sessions were held for project participants
    • Potential and current participants took part in educational and recreational activities
    • Apprentices benefited from the personal experiences of the mentors
      • Apprentices received advice on their own experiences and challenges pursuing education and employment goals
    • Some program participants experienced decreased feelings of social isolation and depression
    • Parents reported increased levels of self-confidence in their children

Project Period
Feb 2005 – Jan 2010

Geographic Reach
El Paso Area

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