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Youth in Transition Toolkit:


My best life

Advocating for a best life

Core advocacy concepts

Does the youth speak up for themselves and the things that are important to them?

Self-advocacy is one of the most critical skills we can help youth attain in living their best life. A strong self-advocate knows their rights and responsibilities and speaks up for those rights. Self-advocates take responsibility for the choices they make and ask for help when needed.

  • Awareness: Understand self-advocacy, self-determination and self-efficacy and their impact on living a good life.
  • Exploration: Identify strengths, preferences, interests and needs related to core advocacy.
  • Preparation: Practice self-advocacy, self-determination and self-efficacy skills at home, school and in the community.
  • Implementation: Use appropriate core advocacy skills in daily life.

Instruction in self-advocacy

Hear what young people have to say about self-advocacy

Watch this 4-minute video to learn about different environments and experiences where young people advocated for themselves at work, in school and with family.



Lightbulb LEARN

LEARN: Develop your knowledge

Learn how to support youth in exploring core advocacy concepts.

Self-advocacy is the ability to effectively communicate your wants and needs. 

Self-determination is the freedom to plan your own life, pursue your own interests, and experience the same life opportunities as anyone else. It means taking responsibility for communicating your wants and needs.

Self-efficacy is confidence in your ability to be successful in specific situations and tasks.

The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) offers Instruction in Self- Advocacy, an online resource that helps professionals prepare to teach youth self-advocacy skills. 

Transition Tennessee offers a pathways to self-determination training module to help professionals prepare students to become more active in managing their own lives and charting their own course for the future.

Self-advocacy online is a resource from the University of Minnesota that teaches about self-advocacy through a series of videos.

Resources DO

DO: Work with youth

Find resources to help youth explore core advocacy concepts.

Housing Benefits 101 provides I get to decide: How do I get started? The activity, found within My Vault's housing path, includes a short animated video on rights and a few follow-up questions about informed choice.

The integrated supports star (PDF) from Charting the LifeCourse helps youth plan for needed support.

To begin, choose a focus for the planning exercise (such as getting a job, exploring work experiences or housing options, or identifying social opportunities at school or in the community). Write this focus in the middle of the star. Then, help the youth fill in examples of existing supports that can be leveraged as planning moves forward.

The Self-determined learning model of instruction (SDLMI) is a framework that teaches students to set goals, make a plan to achieve those goals, and monitor progress toward goals.

The following curriculums were developed to help teach students the skills needed to be successful in adult life.

Advocating for myself from PACER Center provides information and resources on self-advocacy.

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