The CIA is a self advocacy group. CIA stands for Change to Independence Altogether. The group is a member of a larger self advocacy group called the Alliance. The group meets and discusses how to make life better for those who have no voice. That might be talking to the Board or administration here at Marcfirst or going to Springfield and rallying for the budget. And being a part of a larger group helps a small group like the CIA have a voice. We set goals and objectives for our group such as managing money, getting in volunteer hours, continuing education trainings, hosting a fair, teaching the community a wellness topic.
Most members are people who are receiving services from Marcfirst now or have in the past. They range in abilities and interest. They include people who love to get in front of a crowd and talk to people that love doing things behind the scenes. The CIA has one member of the Marcfirst board, 2 members on a Marcfirst committee, 2 members in community groups and 1 member who is on the Alliance Board. We welcome new participants regardless if you receive supports from Marcfirst.
The CIA has been instrumental in bringing Public Speaking training to Marcfirst for people with disabilities. They also have sent groups to the Speak Up, Speak Out conference, we participate in many webinars, create curriculum for Marcfirst staff trainings, volunteer in our community(Lake Run, Aktion Club Events, League of Women Voters, Humane Society, Park Clean ups, holiday decorating, Ringing Bells for Salvation Army ) and the annual rallies in Bloomington. The CIA has planned self-advocacy fairs and Art and music show where people with disabilities sold their baked goods or art work. The CIA also helped with the Freedom Quest Rally when it came through the Bloomington Normal area a few years ago.
“It’s fun, and it is great to teach staff and other people. We really like the rallies and conferences. And it makes you feel good help others.”
“It is awesome to help people use their voice to help others while learning as well. It also a lot of fun to go to rallies and conferences and meet people from around the state.”