VII. The Self-Advocacy Movement - 1980s to Present  D. The Self-Advocacy Experience 4.Gloria Steinbring
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Gloria Steinberg
Gloria Steinbring

When I moved from Hibbing to Minneapolis in 1968, I thought I was on my way to a new career. My social worker in Hibbing told me that I should get job training, and Minneapolis had schools for this. I was living with my parents in Hibbing at the time, and helped them with raising my younger brother, Duane. I liked working with children, and dreamed of one day working in a day care. I followed my social worker's advice, and moved to Minneapolis. I lived in a group home with over 100 people.

I was nervous at first. I didn't know what to expect. It was really tough living away from home for the first time. I was living at Outreach Center, what you might call a mini-institution. I didn't really like living there.

Instead of getting real job training, I went to a sheltered workshop. They "evaluated" me and said that I couldn't get a competitive job because the dexterity in my fingers was not quick enough. They told me "you'll have to stay in the workshop for the rest of your life."

I hoped I would be able to develop my skills as a child care worker. Instead, my job was to put hooks in straps, hour after hour, all day long. I also sealed thermostat covers in a plastic package. We would work on a line, where one person would put in one part, another person would do something else, and the part would move down the line. I didn't like this work because this wasn't where my expertise was. This work made me feel like I was good for nothing.