The Advocacy Center – “A Life Like Any Other” by Agnes Graham

Posted Tuesday October 13, 2015 by Mike Kaminsky


The Advocacy Center is a personalized and flexible service that will allow participants to develop their skills and expand their options. This was made possible through an investment from the IL Council on Developmental Disabilities.  Through the efforts of the Advocacy Center the participant can determine their personal goals, and uncover the necessary steps required to reach each goal. We will encourage participants to pursue employment in the community, begin or continue with a micro-enterprise, or engage in a hobby of their choosing.  Our intention is to give each participant an opportunity to engage in a constructive plan that will align with their desires.  The Advocacy Center will be a resource and a support system for each participant on their personal journey to success in future occupations.

In order for the participant to be successful, tools and assessments are utilized. The Advocacy Center administers a variety of assessments to determine each participant’s skill level, and ensure that the participant has knowledge of general community and safety risks. The participants will complete a Community and Individual Safety Assessment to ensure well-being, as well as determine the type of supervision or support required, if additional supports are needed.  Furthermore, many participants simply do not have a goal in mind, nor do they know exactly what endeavors they would like to pursue. Therefore, participants will engage in an interest inventory and use vocational tools to help expand their options and determine an appropriate goal. The use of the Advocacy Center tools will also help pin point which skills require more programming, and what skills are simply not appropriate for the participant. Our goal is to then expand the participants knowledge and increase their skills through formal and informal programming with the help of staff, professionals in the community that have expertise in a particular field, or other community resources.

The Advocacy Center is working in collaboration with professionals from the community that will be educating participants on self-advocacy, self-employment, interpersonal safety and independent living.  In addition, the Advocacy Center will be hosting educational classes that will help teach the participants banking, budgeting basics and financial planning.  MAPs and PATHs are strategies utilized to help participants work out the steps to their end goal.  Informational sessions will be presented on managing Social Security benefits and Medicaid while employed, as well as entrepreneurial development for small businesses.  In addition to working with professionals, we will strive to create a network with community/local businesses as well. This will aid the participants in many ways. Networking with local businesses can open up many opportunities for community employment, internships or simply volunteering. It can also be an asset and resource to those wanting to start their own business. The Advocacy Center believes that these collaboration efforts are essential to the success of the participant.

The Advocacy Center will ensure that services are personalized and customized to each participant.  Once skills have been determined, and goals set, each participant will complete a Person Center Plan (PCP).  The PCP will outline the short and long term goals that have been established, and detailed objectives will be created. This will help construct a roadmap to success.  The participant will be involved in individual sessions, as well as group meetings and educational courses. The program will be flexible, yet structured to ensure that we fit the needs of each participant. Through the use of these tools and resources, we hope to create a solid foundation for the participants, so that they can learn to further their goals independently.

If you would like more information about the Advocacy Center, please visit the Advocacy Center webpage or complete an application to participate in the Advocacy Center at LifeStyles Academy.  You may also contact Agnes Graham, Advocacy Center Director at or 708-480-2085.











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