What is self-determination? Self-determination means setting my own goals and community to reach them, making my own decisions and choices and having control over my life. Every day I am faced with decisions and choices.

I’ve been involved in Advocates Inc. for many years. When I first got started with Advocates Inc., I was searching for a group of people to listen and collaborate with on attainable goals for myself.

When my circle first started, we brainstormed things that I liked to do. For example, I love public speaking. I started out speaking at a Special Olympics event in Syracuse and found my passion for speaking. My circle of supporters helped me identify places and events to speak at. I then went on and spoke at elementary schools, middle schools, colleges and nursing schools. I started by telling them about my abilities, background, education and Down syndrome.

Another goal of mine was to attend college. In the beginning I was taking classes for fun, but after talking to my circle, we decided I should try for college credit. I started by talking to an advisor to figure out what classes I needed, and now I am halfway to my degree with 33 credits.

Advocates Inc. has provided a circle of individuals who have helped me map out my self-determination plan. I have mentors that provide transportation and help me towards the goal of being independent. I am appreciative of my mentors, they have helped me with past volunteer positions, my classes, note-taking techniques and homework.

We also workout together to help me attain my fitness goals. I also enjoy going to coffee and meeting up with friends in the community. I love reading books and going to the library.

I also have goals in my plan that I work on like, cooking independently, doing laundry and being able to clean effectively and efficiently. These are goals that I struggle with the most and need help with. I am thankful for my support system and my self-determination plan to keep me on track with my goals.