Self-advocate group advisor hopes to grow community leaders


People with developmental disabilities encouraged to attend
Thursday February 9, 2012 — Deb Bartlett

An advisor to the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion’s (BACI) self-advocate group says he hopes members become “more empowered and stronger leaders in their communities.”

Gregg Schiller says he hopes members “stand up for themselves when they have to.”

The self-advocate group is attended by people who have a developmental disability that live in the Burnaby area. While many are supported by BACI, it’s not a requirement.

At the monthly meetings — which usually sees between eight and 15 in attendance — participants discuss issues facing people who have a disability.

Topics include laws and cutbacks by the provincial government, what’s happing with the BACI board, as well as its policies or topics that affect self-advocates in various ways, says Gregg.

People are able to share their personal stories, as well as help others with problems they might be encountering

The members also plan the annual health and safety conference that is attended by between 50 and 60 people from across the province.

Three conferences have been held so far, and Gregg says a fourth is slated for later this year.

Conference topics focus on health and safety issues including healthy relationships, dealing with grieving and loss, self-defence, fire safety, hazards, and nutrition and lifestyles.

Self-advocates from another agency have attended the conferences, and have asked for guidance in starting their own group.

BACI self-advocates have been mentoring the other “who come to our meetings to learn to start their own self-advocacy group within their own agency,” says Gregg.

The group would like to see younger self-advocates attend the group.

He welcomes anyone to the group, and says they can bring a support person until they feel comfortable

The self-advocate group usually meets the fourth Monday of the month, but there’s a change for February. The meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 20 from 10:30 to noon at BACI Still Creek, 2702 Norland Ave.

For more information call advisors Gerry Juzenas and Gregg Schiller at 604-299-7851 or e-mail

To comment on this story or to share your self-advocacy experiences, contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, or e-mail


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