The Mission of Self Advocates of the South Bay and Harbor Area is to train, inform, provide funding, and support all members who are individuals with disabilities. Through programs, members will develop leadership skills, learn the art of public speaking, nurture and support peers, practice self advocacy, and achieve and expand interaction and involvement with the community.
People First is a self-advocacy organization and international, national, and statewide movement of people with developmental disabilities. People First means that we are People First and our disabilities are second. The members of People First chapters work to increase their self advocacy skills by learning how to speak for themselves and others and build decision making skills about what is important in their own lives and lives of their peers. As a self-advocacy/self-help organization, members help each other with problems, make friends, and reach out to people with severe disabilities. Members of People First work together to advocate for their rights, train others about disabilities, participate in community projects, hold social events, take political stands and/or plan conferences/conventions/events.
The purpose of People First is to assist members in building self-confidence by providing a safe place to say how they feel and what they think. It is believed that a person who is given opportunity, training, and support with a peer group can learn to be strong self-advocate for themselves and others. In People First meeting, members are given the opportunity to learn, practice, and develop their skills in public speaking, decision making, and problem solving.
People First educates people in the community to understand that people with developmental disabilities have the same citizen rights and responsibilities as others. As well, we help show others that we are capable of learning, working, living independently, and contributing to the community in great ways. Disability awareness is used by People First to change negative attitudes and build confidence in the abilities of people with disabilities. Working together and building up People First around the world also gives people with developmental disabilities a voice. A voice at the table gives us power to help change our lives and our world to be a better place for all people with disabilities to have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The initial group in the South Bay and Harbor Area, facilitated by Social Vocational Services, was founded in November, 1993 by Barbara Haney.
Since that time, additional People First groups have been formed in Southern, Central, and Northern California.