YOUTH POWER nothing about us without us YP!

In November's eNews:
YP! Welcomes Two New Employees
Huricane Sandy, A Long Island Perspective
AAPD 2013 Summer Internship Program
New Tip Sheet on Accommodations in College
NYC Speak Up - Speak Out Contest
Congrats Kristin Woodlock, Acting OMH Commissioner
Veterans with Disabilities
A Special Thanks to Our Veterans
Many Minds Move Mountains
FLPN Teen Confrence

YP! Welcomes Two New Employees

YOUTH POWER! is proud to introduce two new employees on our team. Brett McMullin, Systems Advocate and Carrie Holmes, Hudson River Regional Youth Partner. Brett and Carrie are based out of our headquarters in Albany.


Brett holds sign at YP!'s August Rally against state funding going to JRC
Brett at YP!'s August '12 Rally against state funding for placements at JR


Brett McMullin 

Systems Advocate

[email protected]

(518) 432-0333 ext. 14


Brett is a high school senior who is interested in politics and government. He has given several talks on mental health issues for both YOUTH POWER! and other groups and state agencies. He wants to help those who are still having problems in the systems. He was a part of the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP). Brett plans to go to college after high school, perhaps entering politics. He understands the problems of the system having been in the family courts and psychiatric hospitals as a young person. As Systems Advocate, Brett will serve as the YP! staff member on the Action Workgroup. Brett will also attend meetings on behalf of YP! and advocate network priorities.


Carrie at Headquarters
Carrie Holmes

Hudson River Regional Youth Partner

[email protected]

(518) 432-0333 ext. 34 cell: (518) 322-2096


WHEW! One week down! I must say, last week has been a true learning experience. I didn't know my mind could absorb all of that information in such a short period of time. However, I am excited for this new stage of my life. I already know that this new position as Hudson River Regional Youth Partner will be a rewarding experience, one that I will cherish for a lifetime. Not many individuals are awarded the opportunity to give back to their community in such a capacity and effect change in a place where change is most needed!


After spending a large portion of my life in foster care, I decided at an early age, I wanted to work in the field of social work because I wanted to be a change agent, to both, the youth and families I encounter, as well as the policies that direct the system. I have spent the last year of my life as a Foster Care Prevention Case Worker, and the past two and a half years as a Youth Ambassador at the State University of New York University at Albany Professional Development Program under a shared grant with the Office of Children and Family Services and the Higher Education Services Corporation. My work was not limited there, as I have facilitated workshops and presented at the annual Youth In Progress Speak Out. I have worked with over a dozen families and have traveled all across New York empowering young people in foster care to pursue higher education. While both experiences were beneficial in different ways, it helped me realize that there are many different ways to accomplish my career goals.


I am honored to be a part of such a remarkable organization geared towards empowering young people to use their voice to influence policies, practices, regulations and law that directly affects them! Not to mention, I get to be a part of such a great roster of passionate staff, all of whom have already shown themselves to be unique, special, and most of all, a clear representation of what YOUTH POWER! really is!


Some things are just meant to be, and I believe fate has allowed me to stumble across this step in my life. I look forward to using my life's experience, coupled with my education, to cultivate future youth leaders, who can continue this great movement that has been initiated. I know I may face some challenges along the way; however, overcoming challenges throughout my life is a major reason why I am here today! It's what I do! This will be no different!

Huricane Sandy: A Long Island Perspective

By Desiree Moore

Hurricane Sandy made her presence known leaving many Long Islanders without electricity, gasoline and many every day essentials. Unfortunately some families have even been stripped of their homes and personal belongings. The word resilience has been tossed around in many coversations referring to the aftermath of Sandy. Communities have come together to support those in need of extra assistance to help get back on track. Hurricane Sandy will not be forgotten but Long Island will move forward.  Here is what Long Island members and supports are saying about Hurricane Sandy.   


"As a Long Islander, I have been continually touched by the outpouring of support and sense of community felt here, esepcially in areas hit hardest by Sandy. Youth in the area have stooped up, volunteering and helping others in need. The communication and the unity on Long Island rely on community members and youth are no exception."  - Nicole Giambalv Youth Engagement Specialist: Nassau County Family Support System of Care 


During the storm I honestly was really nervous, but after the community came together and being supportive it brought a sense of unity and provided a sense of calm.   - Areil Anderson Pedderson Krag Youth Partner Greif in the midst of a storm does not change you, it reveals you!"  - Keita Elis YOUTH POWER! Supporter  


"This is like one of those things you read in the news paper and think it will never happen to your community."   - Unknown YOUTH POWER! Supporter  


"Sandy in my opinion was one of the worst hurricanes I've seen in New York. I'm thankful my loved ones are okay and I continue to pray for those who have been drastically affected."   - Debbie Moore YOUTH POWER! Supporter

AAPD 2013 Summer Internship Program

AAPD is pleased to announce that they are now accepting applications for the 2013 Summer Internship Program. If you are currently an undergraduate, graduate, or recent graduate and self-identify as a person with any type of disability, you are eligible to apply. The application is available on the AAPD website: 
AAPD's Summer Internship Program is a ten-week experience offering participants an opportunity to work in either the public or private sector. Interns receive a stipend, travel to and from Washington DC, and accessible housing. Please feel free to contact [email protected] with questions.

New Tip Sheet on Accommodations in College

Are you a college student with a mental health challenge or know someone who is? Did you know that you can ask for certain accommodations in the classroom that will help you succeed?

Check out the Tools for School: Getting Accommodations in College tipsheet here!


2012 NYC Regional Youth Forum 



nyc Tell us what you would want to change about the systems, organizations or communities you are involved and why. Submit an essay with a minimum of 250 words or an art piece. Art work entries can be submitted in the form of a drawing, sketch, or painting.

You must be between the ages of 14 and 28 to enter. Have a disability and/or personal experience in a child-serving system such as mental health, foster care, juvenile justice, substance abuse and/or special education.  

NYC residents only are allowed to participate.


Winners will receive a gift card from Target in the following amounts: 1st Prize $100, 2nd Prize $75, and 3rd Prize $50.


For Contest Rules and Application Contact NYC Regional Youth Partner Pauline Gordon [email protected] 



Congratulations Kristin Woodlock, Acting Commissioner of OMH!


Kristin stands at the podium surrounded by children at the FTNYS legislative Lunch
Kristin Woodlock at the FTNYS Legislative Lunch February 2012

On Tuesday, October 30, 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo named Kristin M. Woodlock as Acting Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Heath. Kristin replaces Dr. Michael Hogan, Ph.D. as Commissioner. Dr. Hogan retired from service after leading the Office of Mental Health since 2007. 


Prior to her appointment as Acting Commissioner, Kristin Woodlock was appointed Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health in 2011. She served as the Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Children and Family Services from 2008-2011, where she led implementation of The Children's Plan: Improving the Social and Emotional Well Being of New York's Children and their Families.  


The members of YP! have had the honor of working along side Kristin since 2008.  She has been a tremendous supporter of the growth of the YP! network.  The Children's Plan opened many doors for the youth movement.  Kristin invited YP! to host focus groups for OMH and provide youth perspectives during major systems change projects.  She has shown us that she understands the value and importance of an independent youth voice.


"It was great to see Kristin give the Commissioner's update at the Mental Health Services Council meeting.  She gave a heartfelt update of the impact of Sandy and the heroic deeds of many OMH employees." said Stephanie Orlando, YP! Director.  "I am confident that Kristin will put her heart into her work as Acting Commissioner.  That's just the way she operates."


Congratulations Kristin!  We look forward to working with you in this new role!


Veterans with Disabilities

By Curtis Grupe

Every year we celebrate our veterans. They have fought for us against many foes. It is very important that we acknowledge our veterans from all the wars. Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan. It doesn't matter where the war was, all our surviving veterans suffer from some sort of baggage. Some may have been physically injured and are tied to wheelchairs or other mobility supports. But others develop mental health challenges.


It has been called many things like "combat fatigue," "shellshock" etc, but it is known today as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. It is estimated that 1 in 5 veterans from the war on terror will develop PTSD. However, along with these disabilities, some others are common as well such as eye problems, hyper-tension, radiation related illnesses, and foreign diseases. All these conditions can manifest in our veterans so we should treat them with utmost respect and gratitude. Because without our veterans fighting in the wars, our nation would not be the same. Our veterans live with many issues that haunt them so we should lend a hand to our veterans as we would to anyone else.


Photo taken from


Check out the Wounded Warrior Project at

 Their mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors.


A Special Thanks to Our Veterans

By Adam Fazzone


There have been many conflicts throughout the years, and to our soldiers' credit, we have won almost all of them. We are a country of warriors, a country of brave men and woman who fight for the sake of the nation. And once a year we pay tribute to those who are and are not still with us. Veterans Day is a holiday for those spectacular individuals who put their lives on the line for us every day.


I myself have family members who have served in various conflicts throughout the years such as, World War II, Vietnam and dessert storm. Though lucky for me they all returned with their physical and mental health intact. For some this is not always the case, a lot of veterans come back with disabilities, such as missing limbs and PTSD and our hearts go out to those who are suffering every day.


Veterans see horrible things in the line of combat, friends and enemies dying alike, and it can really mess with a person's head. The constant reminder that any day could be your last would drive anyone over the edge. Combat has changed a lot over the years, we have to worry about a lot more nowadays than before; atomic attacks, biological agents, cyber terrorism and friendly assassinations, the list goes on and on. On behalf of those who fight despite the seemingly impending doom, I say thank you for keeping us safe, and our national security secure.


Hopefully we don't have any wars in the near future, but as a glass half empty kind of guy I don't see that happening, I think the longest peace time our nation has ever had was a little longer than five years. If we do have another war I feel optimistic that we will triumph, you may ask why I feel so confident about this, and I would reply "Because we are America of course!"


Photo taken from

Many Minds Move Mountains

By Pauline Gordon

An array of peer advocates from across the city came together for the NYC Family Support Network Conference on October 16, 2012. The conference was at the CUNY Graduate School in midtown Manhattan. The event was an inspirational gathering that certainly lived up to it slogan, Many Minds Move Mountains symbolizing the mobilization of the history of the family support movement. The event was hosted by OMH Parent Advisor, Bernadine Meeks alongside many peer advocates of the Family Support Movement. The Family Support Movement comprises of caregivers, service providers, and families engaging in peer advocacy and standing up for social justice in consumer serving levels of cross systems.


The conference featured William C. Bell, President and CEO of Casey Family Programs. Dr. Bell served as Deputy Commissioner of ACS's Division of Child Protection. He was recognized by New York City's Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for his contribution and dedication to his service in the foster care system. In addition, there were many distinguished community leaders such as Ronald Richter, current Commissioner of NYC Administration for Children's Services, Donna Bradbury, Acting Deputy Commissioner, Division of Children and Family Services of OMH and Paige Pierce, Executive Director of Families Together in New York State.


Throughout the conference there were a variety of workshops which discussed pressing topics such as bullying, suicide prevention, and trauma focused care. Another highlight during the event was guest speaker, Judge Corriero. Judge Corriero is the Executive Director and Founder of the New York Center for Juvenile Justice. He served as a judge for 28 years in the criminal courts of New York State. Judge Corriero advocated on raise awarenessng, and building support for raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York to 18. Currently, NY and North Carolina are the only two states that charge youth 16 and older as adults in the criminal justice sentence.


Overall, many of the attendees will agree that the event was a moving and a powerful testimony of the effectiveness of the family voice and engagement in social justice. 


FLPN Teen Confrence

By Jessica Hollins

Fingers Lakes Parent Network (FLPN) is a youth group out of Bath and on November 3, 2012 from 9 am - 4:30 pm Cadi Morse organized their 6th Annual Teen Conference. FLPN is a youth led program designed to empower and to engage young people in healthy choices. At this conference youth spoke on a panel telling their stories and how the program has helped them in their lives. There were a ton of workshops for youth and adults including YOUTH POWER!'s workshop: "Advocating For Yourself And Others When Being Bullied". Youth enjoyed tons of games and prizes and of course everyone loves food!
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!