Organizing a Self-Advocacy Conference 

Your self advocacy group may be thinking about planning a conference or convention in your own community. Self-advocacy got started in the United States through the experience of planning and running a convention. The self advocates who planned it got a group of advisors to assist them, and with a lot of hard work and commitment they learned how to organize their conference by doing it. You can do this too if you really want to. 

Plan on beginning a year in advance because it takes a lot of time and preparation. It will take commitment from several self-advocates and at least one or two advisors. If you hold your conference at a hotel, the sales staff will be very helpful to you as you plan your event. Another good place to get help is your local convention bureau. 

Be sure to select a place for your conference that is centrally located or accessible to transportation, accessible to wheel chairs, and the right size to accommodate the number of people you want to come. It is also a good idea to plan to have your conference over a weekend or at a time when most self-advocates and advisors are free from work responsibilities. And you may want to hold your event during the "off season," when many hotels and conference sites can give you a lower price. 

Paying for the conference is also an important consideration. Let people know about it far enough in advance so they can save the money to pay their own way. Some self-advocacy groups do fundraising and use the money they raise together to pay for their way to the conference. 

Other things you need to think about as you plan your event are a conference theme, a banquet menu, entertainment, and arranging for advertising. You also need to decide what topics you are going to discuss, and who will organize and run conference workshops. You may want to invite some guest speakers and a few dignitaries like politicians. 

As you can see, there is a lot to think about in planning and organizing a conference.  People First of Oregon has planned many conferences and you may want to contact us for some assistance.