YOUTH POWER nothing about us without us YP!

In this YP! Enews
YP! Rallies Against State Sponsored Torture
Charged Up! Statewide YLF Empowers Leaders
NYSILC at 5th Annual Forum
NYSILC to Hold State Plan Open Forum
YLF a Learning Experience for Staff Too
National Foster Care and Alumni Policy Council Survey
YP! is Hiring



group of YOUTH POWER! leaders and concerned citizens standing together in front of the swan street steps of the NY state capitol holding signs against JRC and Torture 

On August 9, 2012 over 60 people rallied on the capital to raise awareness about New York State's ties to the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (JRC). Every year over 100 students from New York are shipped to the Massachusetts school where students are subjected to painful skin shocks and food restrictions. JRC is believed to be the only school in the country to torture children with electric shock. This coordinated action was planned by YOUTH POWER!, Voices of the Heart and Occupy JRC.


The event was powerful, with many people sharing their stories and calls for closure. Featured speakers at the event included Stephanie Orlando, Director of YOUTH POWER!, Daniel Hazen, Executive Director of Voices of the Heart, Tina Minkowitz of the Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry.  Marc Rosen, Mariama Toe, Colleen Dietrich, Lucia Mallozzi and Fekri Kram also spoke on behalf of YOUTH POWER!.


This rally was only the beginning. YP! and our partners intend to continue the fight to pull the plug on JRC for good. For more information on how to get involved visit


Click here to watch a video of the rally


Pictures of the event are available on the YP! Facebook Page.


Charged up!

Statewide Youth Leadership Forum Empowers leaders

 Group picture after the leaders' dinner

On August 7-9, 2012 YP! held its fifth annual Statewide Youth Leadership Forum, OUR TIME IS NOW! The agenda was packed tight with an overwhelming amount of information.  Together, we developed our cultural awareness, practiced networking, advocacy and activism, as well as learned about community based peer-led supports.


Most of the agenda was facilitated by YOUTH POWER! leaders; however, guest speakers included Daniel Hazen, Executive Director of Voices of the Heart and Brad Williams, Executive Director of the New York State Independent Living Council (NYSILC).


It is tradition that on the second evening of the forum, YP! hosts a Leaders' Dinner with leaders in state government.  Representatives from the following agencies attended to speak candidly with young leaders: State Education Department, Office of Mental Health, Office of Children & Family Services, Council on Children & Families, Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities and the Commission on Quality of Care for Persons With Disabilities.  Paige Pierce of Families Together in New York State and Brad Williams from the NYSILC also attended. 


The Forum was planned by the members of the Special Events Working Group with input from YP! staff, board and other working group members.  Twenty young people were selected to attend the forum by an application process.  Feedback was very positive and participants shared that the forum inspired them to "Go out and work on my weaknesses and use my strengths to make changes where I live", "grow as an advocate and develop better skills to become a leader", and "reach out and become more active."


To view a slide show of this event, click this link or visit our Facebook Page.


NYSILC at 5th Annual Statewide Forum 8/7-8/9

By Kieran McGovern


Brad Williams speaks into microphone at the front of the room during the YP! Statewide forum

YOUTH POWER!'s (YP!)  Fifth Annual Statewide Youth Leadership Forum featured a workshop by the Executive Director of the New York State Independent Living Council (NYSILC), Brad Williams. Also in attendance were NYSILC staff, Joe Adler and Patty Black. The purpose of Brad's presentation was to introduce and familiarize YP! members with the Independent Living (IL) movement, and NYSILC's role therein.


The New York IL structure is similar to that of YP! in that both are peer-led, peer-run networks throughout the state of New York. However, the IL movement is older, more developed, and deals with "cross-disability" issues;  this means not only people with mental health, foster care, juvenile justice and/or learning disabilities, but also those with physical, visual and auditory disabilities as well.


Brad explained the kind of work that goes on in Centers for Independent Living (CILs) throughout the State, and furthermore, NYSILC's responsibility as the planning body for IL services. Anyone is eligible to receive services at his/her own local CIL. As Brad mentioned in his presentation, the five core services of IL are: information and referral, independent living skills training, peer counseling, and systems advocacy. However, young people are encouraged to visit their CILs for anything they may need help with. Most CILs have active youth networks and/or peer-supported transitional services (such as interview trainings, resume-building, one-on-one assistance with budgeting, or tax returns, etc.).


Members were then asked for their input on how people with disabilities can be better served in their regions. This is huge because NYSILC develops the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) for all of New York State. YOU'RE input will help NYSILC decide how the SPIL is made and administered!


As a network, YP! is proud and thankful to have NYSILC as a partner and supporter. The IL world cares about us and shares our commitment to equal rights for ALL people, regardless of disability, LGBTQ-status, age, gender, race, or belief system. NYSILC will standby and chant with us as we chant, "what do we want? YOUTH POWER!"


For more information about NYSILC visit 



NYSILC to Hold State Plan Open Forum



Join the open forum to help draft the next three-year State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) for 2014-2016


Friday, September 7, 2012, from 10:00-11:00 am, at the NYSILC

full council meeting, in the Sage Room at the Hilton Garden Inn,

235 Hoosick Street, Troy, NY 12180


Join in person or by conference call


Please contact the NYSILC office in advance if you know you are either going to attend in person, participate by conference call, and/or plan to give comment:


(518) 427-1060 (Voice or TDD)

1 (877) 397-4126 (Toll Free NYS Only)

Email: [email protected]


Indicate if you are going to attend in person or by conference call. If relevant, let us know if you will need access via a web-based captioning service link, which will have to be arranged in advance.


Once registered, conference call participants will receive necessary information. Registration responses will help to establish speaking order and will be merged with other public guests (time permitting). Individuals will be provided approximately 2-3 minutes to speak. However, time can vary depending on the number of participants.


The comment period will close at 11:00 am. If some individuals do not get an opportunity to speak, the forum will close with an acknowledgement that SPIL formulation has just begun. The various other options to provide input will be reviewed. If all identified individuals have provided input prior to 11:00 am, the Chair has the discretion to close the forum.


Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, provides the authority for the New York State Independent Living Council (NYSILC), New York State Education Department/Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services - Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES - VR) and New York State Office of Children and Family Services - Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH) to seek public input on priority needs related to disability issues and use it to guide the development of the next three-year State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL). The SPIL is a plan to improve Independent Living (IL) services in the State for individuals with disabilities. It also helps to identify the needs and priorities of the consumers, providers, and other stakeholders involved in the network to help identify common strategies. The State Plan is a tool that ultimately directs the use of Federal IL funding.

YLF A Learning Experience For Staff Too

by Colleen Deitrich
Colleen and Chrissy sit in formal wear waiting for the state government leaders to arrive
While YOUTH POWER! recently celebrated its 5th year hosting the Youth Leadership Forum in Albany, I was celebrating it as my first year. Not as an attendee, but as a staff member. Whether or not I was there as staff or guest, I certainly learned my fair share.  I learned about finding my passion and letting it guide me as a leader. I learned about oppression and how to recognize when it is happening to me.  I even got to teach the rest of the group a little something about artivism, one of my natural strengths.


However, I think the most important things I learned came from the youth themselves. From all over the state, young people came to this forum to begin making a difference in their communities lives, and that alone was enough to make me proud. Every person in attendance showed a profound interest in a variety of topics. Together, we formed a complete unit of youth and young adults ready to take the state by storm. We even had a chance to strut our stuff at a rally on the Capitol at the end of the forum, protesting the NYS use of tax dollars to send youth to the JRC, where torture occurs daily.


It was clear that all of the hard work I'd put into the event, along with all the work of the entire YP! staff, was worthwhile. Even during the 'downtimes,' singing Christina Aguilera karaoke and making t-shirts, there was something to learn. I bonded with many of the youth there and hope to work with them in the future, even those not from my region.


The forum took place in a very welcoming environment. Everyone was at ease with each other, and I not only met the youth of the state, but I got to know them and the stories that had brought them there. No two stories were the same, but they all had the same message: 'Our time is now.' 



The National Foster Care and Alumni Policy Council Survey 

The National Foster Care and Alumni Policy Council is distributing an important survey and needs your participation.  Responses will be used to develop recommendations for George Sheldon, the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 


This is a hot topic currently in the Administration and we want to ensure they hear from young people.  We encourage you to not only take the survey yourself, but to ask your sponsoring organization to distribute to their respective members.  Feedback regarding the numbers and results for each partner organization will be reported back to the partner organizations.  The survey is anonymous - individual's names will not be tied to the results. 


Help  Reduce Foster Youth Vulnerability to Predators and Domestic Sex Trafficking

Survey link:

Deadline:  Aug 22, 2012




Systems Advocate - Part-time, Hourly Employee, Albany NY

Click here for the posting


Assistant Supervisor - Full-time, Salary Employee, Full benefits, Albany NY 

Click here for the posting


YOUTH POWER! is the New York State network of young people who have been labeled and are seeking change.  Together, we have decided to speak up about our experiences because no one knows what it is like for us better than we do.  Through peer-to-peer mentoring, we empower young people to be active citizens who are aware of government operations, their rights and the ability to use their voices to influence policies, practices, regulations and laws.  We are young people helping other people, ensuring availability of self-help and peer support while changing systems so that young people get the support they need with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Nothing About Us Without Us!