Before American Idol became synonymous with at least two other shows on every network, I took it very, very seriously. You might laugh, but I can be sure that most of you have stumbled across the final episode of at least one season of this singing competition show, excitedly rooting for either of the last two contestants. So what does this have to do with self-advocacy? Well, the second prominent theme that I noticed in all of these videos is that of a solidarity movement that is paralleling the self-advocacy movement. In such, each time a self-advocate (SA) was interviewed or asked to define SA, the conversation naturally unfolded into a desire to help others feel empowered to speak up. Unified by a few common threads such as honesty, independence, goal sharing, and helping others to overcome struggles, these films elicit that same adrenaline rush I feel when watching the final two American Idol contestants clench hands, share a hug, and await the answer to their futures as the winner of the competition is revealed. We all know, however, that both performers on this TV show will be signed by a music label and get the chance to pursue their dreams. We’ve even witnessed times when the runner-up has gained more acclaim and success than the winner! This is what makes those final moments before the announcement so distinct in my mind; it is as though both performers know how much effort each has put into this process, how badly the other wants to pursue this dream, and how happy he or she will be no matter what the result is. Succinctly, it is a beautiful thing to meet others who are going through the same struggles or experience as you. And the ability to take that person’s hand, to give them guidance to find his or her voice, is a sustainable practice and, in my opinion, a wonderful aspect of the human condition.
Regardless of the inspiring moments experienced during this survey, I came out of the process feeling torn. While most of these videos succeed in explaining the Self-Advocacy movement and personal attachments to it, I was rather disenchanted by the lack of expertise that went into the majority of the films. In my ideal world, there would be several films roaming about the interwebs at this moment that are beautiful depictions of the journey of a self-advocate, like many other videos devoted to human rights. There is work to be done! Let’s make sure every voice is heard!
In my search for engaging videos about Self-Advocacy online, I came across several created with Moira Rossi, a talented advocate from North Florida. As it turns out she is an active board member of FL SAND! I can’t wait to meet Moira, one of Florida’s home grown celebrities, at the FL SAND Self-Advocate conference in December!
Want to watch some of my favorite videos? Let me know what you think of them and post links to your favorite SA videos!
1. Educate yourself: what is self-advocacy?
2. Storytelling, Virtue Sharing
3. Give me more of these beauties
-Hallie Abelman, Arts In Action Summer Intern