By Kayce Dallas, MSSW Intern at Kentucky Youth Advocates
The dictionary defines advocacy as the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal. Advocacy can mean something different to everyone.
To Carli Mosby, Policy and Advocacy Analyst at Kentucky Youth Advocates, “advocacy is speaking up for those that may not have the ability to speak for themselves. It means doing something (on the state level, local level, or even the personal level) that will ultimately uplift and support others.”
Shannon Moody, Senior Policy and Advocacy Director at KYA, described her definition of advocacy as well. She said, “the advocacy that I try to engage in is ‘advocacy with’ which means engaging in partnership with a group that is experiencing oppression or inequity to facilitate conversations and urge action around improving a situation or system to improve their situation. There is also an ‘advocacy for’ when the population is not able to be engaged in advocating for themselves where you are an extension of them and represent them to the best of your ability to raise awareness and engage in change to that group’s benefit.”
Being in school at University of Louisville Kent School of Social Work and interning at KYA, I have learned how important it is to advocate for not only yourself and your family, but also for clients and their families. Advocacy can educate policymakers, reform current policies or develop new ones, and create more open communication between policymakers and their constituents. .
There are many ways to advocate for yourself, family, clients, and your community:
- Stay informed.
- Read and research topics of interest and/or topics you want to better understand.
- Attend KYA’s Advocate Virtual Forums to stay updated on policy priorities.
- Continue to check KYA’s Bill Tracker throughout the session.
- Follow KYA on social media and sign up for email updates.
- Stream KET to watch the Kentucky General Assembly in committee meetings and the Senate and House proceedings.
- Do your research. Know what each candidate stands for and vote for the one that aligns with your morals and values.
- Communicate with your legislators.
- Find out who your legislators are and communicate with them through social media, email, a phone call, or writing a letter. Let them know if you agree or disagree with a policy.
- Speak up.
- Don’t be afraid. Speak up when you need to.
- Attend local and statewide events.
- Get involved in local and statewide organizations and support them by attending their advocacy events such as Children’s Advocacy Week, which is coming up February 1-5, 2021.
Advocacy is important. Start advocating for yourself, your family, and your community.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
This post is part of the blog series, Intern Insights.
It sure was nice when you said that getting involved in local and statewide organizations could help someone to become an advocate. As you said, you could attend advocacy events to support them. I would imagine how a rally organizer could help people with advocacy to be heard in a peaceful way. For me, a rally organizer could allow protesters to be supported by other participants while keeping the protest peaceful and safe.