Hosted, planned and presented by self advocates, the first Speaking Out Conference was held in 2007, after two years of planning. Over 120 people from Southwestern Ontario and from as far away as Timmins enjoyed their time together at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin. New Vision Advocates (London) and the Action Committee (Walkerton) received a grant from MCSS Fiscal Innovation Fund and used it to engage Ann Hutchinson, London, to assist with initial plans for a conference to bring together people with an intellectual disability to have fun and talk about things important to them.
The planning and fun continued through conferences at the CAW in Port Elgin in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012,2014, 2016, 2017 & 2019 with one day retreats hosted in three local communities in 2011,2013,2015 & 2018.
Over the years other advocate groups joined the planning. Each year, the strength of the event is clearly in the presentations self advocates deliver to each other...about rights, community inclusion, effective advocacy, and language. Public Speaking workshops give opportunity for confidence to build. Great food and dancing to the Leask Brothers Band, Karaoke, and Paul the DJ have always added to the satisfaction of hosting and attending these events.