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Tutor Tip of the Month

Strengthening One’s Voice:
Advocating for Yourself & Others

Building literacy skills can open the door to increased confidence to speak up for oneself, as well as others in need of an advocate.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an “advocate” is “one who pleads the cause of another.” The root of the word is “voice,” and to advocate truly is to give a voice to needs and concerns.

They are many ways to practice exercising this voice. A few ideas are:

  1. Role play with the learner: If he or she would like to speak to a teacher, doctor, or manager, for example, you can work out in advance the types of words to use to make the point and then practice the conversation.
  2. Identify venues where learners’ voices need to be heard: Perhaps the literacy program would like to make a presentation to the City Council or Friends of the Library about the work being done in the literacy program. Would your learner like to say a few words? Writing and practicing a speech is good practice, even if it is only delivered in private.
  3. Letter-writing: Being able to put issues in writing is important. A short form of writing is the letter to the editor. A longer form to practice would be a letter to an individual.
  4. Research one’s rights: In many situations, we do not fully understand our rights. If your learner is a tenant, for example, you can research together what rights tenants have in your city. We also have rights as patients; you can review together how to access medical information, protect privacy, and such matters. Understanding one’s rights is empowering.

A growing number of learners in California’s library literacy programs have strengthened their leadership and advocacy skills through the Henry Huffman Leadership Institute, which originated through a partnership between Read Santa Clara and Vision Literacy. Read about it online:
http://www.visionliteracy.org/leadership.html


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