A Chance to be Made Whole [PDF]

People First Members Being Friends to Tear Down Institution Walls
People First of Tennessee

John O’Brien


People who live in institutions need friends 5
It begins with eye-to-eye contact. 7
Some people don’t talk 8
Some people act violent 9
People First Meetings are a good place to start 10 Together 11
Institutions put walls between friends 12
What we can do to get through the walls 15
Why are the walls so strong? 16

People First of Tennessee has worked hard to make some big changes for people who now have to live in institutions. Because they fought in court for institution- alized people, the State has agreed that people who now have to live in five institutions will get the services they need to move out into their communities.

One way that People First members helped to win this victory was by acting as what lawyers call “next friends” for People First members who live in institu- tions. A “next friend” is somebody who gets a US Federal Judge’s attention for people who need the Judge to protect their rights but cannot speak for them- selves and have no family members to speak up for them.