YOUTH POWER nothing about us without us YP!

In this eNews
Deadline Extended! Statewide Youth Leadership Forum
Upcoming Regional Forums
YP! Co-Sponsoring Transition Age Youth Institute
Save the Date! FLPN 7th Annual Teen Conference
YP! Executive Director Attends White House Mental Health Event
June is LGBTQ2S Awareness Month
YP! and FTNYS Do It Again! Grand Slam for Awareness Month
Opportunity or Exploitation?
Keep Summer from Being A Bummer
Stephanie Orlando Appointed to BHSC
Job Opportunity: YP! Network Assistant
Start Changing the World Today at GimmeMo
Jay-Z Offers Scholarship to Young People
Survey About Services to Youth with Disabilities
EEOC Issues Revised Publication on Employment Rights
HUD Issues New Guidance for Housing Providers
Federal Reports Focus on Youth Issues
The New Yorkers For Children Spirit Award

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Upcoming Forums
North Country: July 12
Upper Hudson: July 15
Lower Hudson: July 17
Statewide: August 13 - 15
NYC: August 30

Deadline Extended!

Apply for YP!'s Sixth Annual

Statewide Youth Leadership Forum

Hope, Justice, Pride! This year's theme Hope, Justice, Pride!

Dates: August 13-15, 2013

Location: Albany, New York


Only 20 Young  People will be chosen to attend our 3-day forum with their travel, food and hotel expenses paid for! Apply Now to join in on all the fun and action. 


At the 6th Annual Statewide gathering, we will power up our advocacy skills and strengthen the cross-systems and cross-disability youth movement.


YP! is an independent organization run by youth and young adults with disabilities and cross-systems experiences. As young people, we need to work together to ensure our rights are protected. Together, as a united movement, we work with state agencies to ensure young people get the support they need with the respect and dignity they deserve.


We are proud of our culture and our community. Join us at this prestigious annual event.



  • Advocacy to Activism - Activities and guest speakers to learn ways to create change.
  • Meet other young people who have been labeled and want to change the way the system works.
  • Have dinner with NY State officials and tell them how it really is for young people.
  • Develop your own leadership plan.

In order to be selected you must:

  • Have a disability.
  • Be age 16 to 28.
  • Youth under 18 must have guardian approval.
  • Must live in New York State.
  • Commit to helping a YP! Working Group, Board or a Regional Team for one year.
  • Complete the application and return it by July 10, 2013 

Interested in presenting a workshop? Download the Call for Presentations here

For more information, call Zach Garafalo, YP! Assistant Director at 518-432-0333 ext. 26 or email
Upcoming Regional Youth Forums
The YOUth Forum Needs YOU!

YOUTH POWER! has begun it's Regional Youth Forums. The input gathered at these forums will guide our advocacy efforts and inform updates to our 2013 - 2015 Priority Agenda. To find out information about a forum in your region, check out the information below.

Central Logo
Central Region: North Country Youth Forum
Friday July 12, 2013
Malone YMCA, Malone, NY
1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Are you from the North Country region and want your voice heard? Look no further than the YOUTH POWER! North Country Forum in Malone, NY! Come prepared to share your stories with us, which will be recorded on an audio file.


There will also be trivia games, empowerment activities, and, of course, food! It is a great opportunity for any youth who has been labeled by the system and wishes to be heard! Come share your stories and concerns with us! We are here to listen to you! 


PR Packet

Regional Forum Registration Packet

North Country Flyer




For more information:

Colleen Deitrich, Central Regional Youth Partner

(315) 679-1476  



Hudson River Regional Youth Forum

July 15, 2013: Upper Hudson Forum

Arbor Hill Community Center

50 Lark Street, Albany NY  12210

12:00 - 3:00


July 17, 2013: Lower Hudson Forum

Astor Mt. Carmel School Building

15 Mt. Carmel Place, Poughkeepsie, NY  12601

5:00 - 8:00



For more information and to help plan:

Carrie Holmes, Hudson River Regional Youth Partner

(518) 322-2096 


Click here for the Upper Hudson Flyer 

Click here for the Upper Hudson Registration Form

Click here for the Lower Hudson Flyer

Click here for the Lower Hudson Registration Form


New York City Youth Forum

August 30, 2013

Location TBD


For more information and to help plan:

Pauline Gordon, New York City Youth Partner

(347) 880-2735

YP! Co-Sponsoring Transition Age Youth Institute September 17 - 18, 2013



Save the Date! Transition Age Youth Institute September 17 - 18, 2013 The Saratoga Hilton, Saratoga Springs NY
YOUTH POWER! has partnered with the 
New York State Rehabilitation Association (NYSRA), Mental Health Association of New York State (MHANYS), Learning Disabilities Association of New York State, Inc (LDA) and the New York State Coalition for Children's Mental Health Services (CCMHS) to sponsor the Transition Age Youth Institute. Save the dates on your calendars; this promises to be an exciting event. On the partnership, YP! Executive Director Stephanie Orlando said "we are excited to partner to highlight successful practices as well as continue the dialogue on what services and supports young people need to transition successfully to adulthood."

Save the Date!

FLPN Seventh Annual Teen Conference

Finger Lakes Parent Network, Inc. Youth Program 7th Annual Teen Conference: Millennial Trends  Save the Date: November 9, 2013 at Avoca Baptist Church   Keynote Speaker: Youth Panel: youth share their life experiences - Participate in our annual art show - Youth (ages 12 - 21) Workshops on healthy relationships, cyber bullying, life skills and more - Parent Track on Trending Teen Issues - Workshops for Youth Professionals on Positive Interactions and Engaging Youth   For more information, contact Cassandra Morse at (607) 776-2164 or


YP! Executive Director Attends White House Mental Health Event


Stephanie Orlando and Lacy Kendrick hold Mental Health Month Proclamations
Stephanie Orlando with Lacy Kendrick Burk, Executive Director of Youth MOVE National

YP! Executive Director Stephanie Orlando was at the White House on Monday, June 3 attending a conference about mental health. Stephanie was invited to the event through her role as a member of the National Council on Disability.


The event brought together people from across the country, including mental health advocates, educators, health care providers, faith leaders, members of Congress, representatives from local governments and individuals who have struggled with mental health challenges, to discuss how to work together to reduce stigma and help the millions of Americans struggling with mental health issues.


The President gave the opening remarks stating "The brain is a body part too; we just know less about it.  And there should be no shame in discussing or seeking help for treatable illnesses that affect too many people that we love.  We've got to get rid of that embarrassment; we've got to get rid of that stigma." To that end, the White House announced the launch of which provides an introduction to mental health.  It also showcases several videos of celebrities and "average Americans" talking about mental health.


The President's Fiscal Year 2014 Budget includes a new $130 million initiative to help teachers and other adults recognize signs of mental illness in students and refer them to help if needed, support innovative state-based programs to improve mental health outcomes for young people ages 16-to-25, and help train 5,000 additional mental health professionals with a focus on serving students and young adults.


The event highlighted a variety of national efforts to address stigma. The National Association of Broadcasters, made up of local television and radio stations across the country and the broadcast networks, is developing a national public awareness campaign to reduce negative attitudes and perceptions about mental illness through television and radio ads, and social media.   MTV and shared a few initiatives that they are working on including the Bully text line, and


"It was encouraging that this event was not medical model in focus.  It included peer support, the message of hope and recovery, the importance of individualized approaches, and alternatives such as Yoga and narrative psychology," said Ms. Orlando. 


Young adult peer support was highlighted through the participation of Active Minds.  Janelle Montaño introduced the President and participated on a panel. Active Minds empowers students to change the perception about mental health on college campuses. 


Aaron Baier, President of the YOUTH POWER! Board of Directors remarked: "Through Stephanie's work on the national level, YP!'s profile is raised. Stephanie is in a unique position to learn from national experts and contribute what we have learned in New York to the national dialogue regarding youth and disability rights while maintaining a mentoring role in the New York State youth movement. Her work on the national level is a tremendous reflection of the strength of YOUTH POWER! and how far we have come."


June is LGBTQ2S Awareness Month

Colleen Deitrich

Stonewall Inn
Stonewall Inn, 1969

On June 28th, 1969, police raided a bar called The Stonewall Inn in New York City that was popular with gay and lesbian youth. The youth and their allies in the bar fought back. This event, known now as the Stonewall Riots, was the first major event in LGBTQ Pride History. This event is celebrated in June as National LGBTQ Pride Month, a month of acceptance, awareness, and flaunting cultural diversity.


This is the month where Pride Parades are seen in every major city in the USA. Millions of LGBTQ people of all ages show off their courage, strength, and positive outlook on their lives. In a time where LGBTQ rights are a hotly debated issue among many government officials, 'Gay Pride' is becoming more and more important to young people in one of the greatest civil rights movements of the Millennial Generation (those born between 1985 and 2000).


For millions of youth, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer) issues are vital, as more and more teens and young adults choose to embrace who they are and 'come out.' Many older, more conservative opponents feel that the 'LGBTQ Lifestyle' threatens more 'traditional' morals, such as the definition of marriage or the process of raising children. LGBTQ Pride Month raises awareness that, in fact, it is not a matter of morals or traditions, but a matter of civil liberty and diversity. June is a great month for the LGBTQ Community to educate people on the rights, issues, and liberties at stake in this highly contested debate.


Most importantly, it is a month for the LGBTQ Community (and that includes straight allies) to show its' pride in itself and its' contributions to society. It is a month of fun, festivals, and activism that anyone can celebrate!

YP! and FTNYS Do It Again! Grand Slam for Awareness Month

five young people stad by the podium at the eventAcknowledging that May is both Foster Care and Children's Mental Health Awareness month; YOUTH POWER! and FTNYS branched out and hosted their first ever dual awareness celebration. On May 22, 2013, advocates, policy officials, councilmen, commissioners, parents, and youth all gathered to celebrate the success of these two systems and the individuals they serve.


Carrie Holmes, YOUTH POWER!'s Hudson River Regional Youth Partner, carried the vision of this event entitled," Our Time is Now: Celebrating Foster Care and Children's Mental Health Awareness by Fostering Growth and Acknowledging Achievements" like a baby until it reach termed and was delivered. Carrie Holmes expressed her feelings toward the outcome of the event in a few short words, "Like most deliveries, the most exciting and rewarding part is seeing how months of hard work, labor, and time, all turns out to be a precious gift that we can all take joy in". 


Paige Peirce, Executive Director of FTNYS stated "the thing that most excites me about this event is looking down and seeing both YOUTH POWER! and FTNYS listed at the top of the program". Truly, it was the collaborative efforts of both organizations that made this event special. Stephanie Orlando, Executive Director of YOUTH POWER!, states "many times we gather to celebrate the awareness of each system independently, however, this event is special because is acknowledges that mental health and foster care go hand-in-hand."


There were many great speakers at the event that shared their personal experiences in the system. YOUTH POWER! and FTNYS would like to extend a special thank you to Councilman Anton Konev, OMH'S Acting Commissioner, Kristin Woodlock, OCFS Representative, Vicky Hiffa, Parent and Advocate, Lorraine McMullen, NYC Regional Youth Partner,  Pauline Gordon, Youth Engagement Consultant, Melanie Hecker, and Director of Step by Step Counseling and Author, Melanie Gilmore. We would also like to give a special than you to our guest performer, Lily Killar. This event was a success because of YOU!


And to all of our guests, members, and supporters, WE LOVE YOU! Thank you for helping to increase our networks, and make our movements stronger.

Opportunity or Exploitation? YOUth Decide

Melanie Hecker

Who doesn't love Walt Disney World? The ambiance, the characters, and of course the rides. Even better is that Disney World is considered world-class in the treatment of the disabled. Disabled Disney World patrons, whether physically, mentally, or developmentally disabled, are given access to special lines to make things easier for them.


Because of Disney's excellence in handling the disabled, a new "business" has sprung up. For a large fee, rich families (especially those from NYC) are hiring disabled tour guides for the sole purpose of getting into the special lines, which are usually much shorter. The guides aren't cheap at $130 an hour, but rich moms have been quoted as saying "This is how the 1% does Disney". Said families also rave about how hiring a disabled person to pose as a relative lets them avoid 2 ½ hour lines.


Some people see this as almost a good thing. They point out that services such as the misleadingly-named "Disney Dream Tours" are giving disabled people jobs, something they might not come across easily, and that it's a low-stress and manageable job since it consists entirely of riding rides. A large number of people, however, are against this practice for a number of reasons. Doing this takes away space from the people who really need the separate entrance,  will make it harder for people with non-apparent disabilities to get line access, is exploitative of the disabled guides, and takes advantage of a service Disney intended for the disabled, not filthy rich aristocrats. There is even a possibility of Disney suspending this privilege if enough people take advantage of it.


So, members of YOUTH POWER!, what do you think? Is this practice acceptable, or should it be condemned?


Melanie Hecker is the Youth Engagement Consultant for YOUTH POWER!. She is involved with NYS Success - the Upstate System of Care Expansion Project.

Keep Summer from Being a Bummer

Colleen Deitrich, Central RYP

A girl enjoying the beach on a summer day.

Summer is here again! Time for barbeques, swimming pools, hanging out with friends, vacations, and beating the heat! But summer can also be one of the best times of the year for youth to work on advocacy, activism, and awareness, especially for issues that matter to them! So if you're feeling the need to be empowered, here are a few fun facts about the Summer of 2013 that can keep you feeling that YOUTH POWER! spirit in the sun!


JUNE: June is National LGBTQ Pride and Awareness Month! All over the country, groups and individuals, members and allies, are all gearing up for showing their true colors in events, community activities, and parades. Are you a youth who identifies with the LGBTQ community? Or do you want to learn more about what the LGBTQ Pride Movement is about? Look up your local LGBTQ advocacy center or youth center for more information!  Also, June is the month to get in those applications for the Statewide Youth Leadership Forum hosted by YOUTH POWER!


JULY: July is known for Independence Day in America, but did you also know that France, Canada, Belgium, Algeria, Argentina, Venezuela, Peru, Columbia, and Hong Kong also celebrate Independence Days this month? Take some time to think about what freedom means to you, and what your rights are as young people with systems experience. This is the month to advocate for your rights in your community! Take advantage of having extra time on your hands to make an appointment with your local representatives! Talk to them about the issues that matter to you, and ask how they can help you advocate for your goals.


AUGUST:  Few people know that August is National 'What Will Your Legacy Be?' Month!  Have you been asking this of yourself lately? One fantastic way of exploring that is by attending the YOUTH POWER! Statewide Leadership Forum! Apply in June, and on August 13th through 15th, those youth who are accepted will come to Albany and learn about peer support, increasing youth involvement, and how to become a leader in your community! Go back to school feeling empowered and ready to take on anything!


So why not take a break from eating popsicles and lounging in the sun? Every youth has the right to speak and be taken seriously! Now is the time to exercise your right to be heard!  

Stephanie Orlando Appointed to the NYS Behavioral Health Services Advisory Council

Governor Cuomo nominated Stephanie Orlando, Executive Director of YOUTH POWER! to serve as a Member of the New York State Behavioral Health Services Advisory Council. The Senate confirmed her appointment on June 19, 2013. Ms. Orlando has accepted this appointment with great honor. 


The 2012-13 Enacted Budget repealed the Mental Health Services Council and the Advisory Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and created the Behavioral Health Advisory Council. This new council is intended to advise the Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) on creating improvements to behavioral health services. The Behavioral Health Services Advisory Council would assume the role and responsibility in the statewide comprehensive planning process required under Mental Hygiene Law (MHL) § 5.07


Ms. Orlando served on the Mental Health Services Council from 2009 to 2013. She also serves as a state level appointed member of the Commissioner's Advisory Panel on Special Education and the Commissioners' Committee on Cross-Systems Services for Children & Youth.

Job Opportunity: YOUTH POWER!

Network Assistant

YOUTH POWER! is hiring a part-time Network Assistant to be based in our Albany headquarters. The Network Assistant, among other things, will be responsible for:
  • Updating our website
  • Compiling the eNews
  • Serving as staff liaison to the Outreach and Special Events workgroups
  • Participate in the planning of all of YP!'s statewide events
  • Keep our membership database up to date
  • Keep our members informed of network activities
We are looking for the perfect blend of someone who is interested in computers and graphic design as well as someone who is good with people. The Network Assistant is one of the key jobs within our network.

If you are good with/at, then you should apply for this job
  • Microsoft Office Suite (Excel and Word)
  • Google Apps (Documents, Spreadsheets)
  • Constant Contact
  • Buiding/maintaining a website/blog (we currently use WordPress)
  • Working with people
  • Returning phone calls and phone etiquette
For more information, contact Zach Garafalo, YP! Assistant Director at 518-432-0333 ext. 26 or

Start Changing the World Today at GimmeMO

"Are you inspired and Mo'tivated to create social change? Are you passionate about youth issues? Apply to be an intern at GimmeMo and start changing the world today! 



GimmeMo is a multi-platform community that facilitates dynamic conversations about real issues young people face.  Started by former High School Musical Star and current UN Youth Champion Monique Coleman, GimmeMo wishes to equip young people with the right resources and information to be inspired and motivated to do good in the world!  We have several internships available including but not limited to: Advertising, Campaigns/Programs, Celebrity Relations, Finance, Global Connections, Graphic Art/Web Design, and Social Media."



Log-on to Crimson Careers to apply: 47363

All applications can be submitted at 

Jay-Z Wants to Help You Pay for College
Shawn Carter
Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation Logo

The Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) Scholarship Fund offers scholarship opportunities to high school seniors, college students, and young adults 18-25 pursuing studies at vocational or trade schools. This scholarship is aimed at single mothers, children who attend alternative schools or earned a GED, students with grade point averages of 2.0, and students who have previously been incarcerated. Be prepared to answer the question: What are your plans to give back to the community?

Survey About Services to Youth With Disabilities Extended to June 28th
Logo of the US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy

The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) wants to draw your attention to a survey jointly being conducted by ETA and the Office of Disability Employment Policy on WIA Services Provided to Youth with Disabilities.  Announced via Training and Employment Notices 32-12, the survey response collection is extended until May 31, 2013.  It will benefit the workforce system by 1) gaining a broader understanding about how youth with disabilities are served in the public workforce system; and 2) identifying promising practices and/or policies that demonstrate improvements to serving youth with disabilities.  


State Workforce Agencies and Local Workforce Investment Boards are encouraged to respond to the WIA Services Provided to Youth with Disabilities survey before June 28, 2013. For questions about completing the survey, contact ABT Associates via email: or call 1-855-295-5528.  To obtain additional background information, view TEN 32-12 at:

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Issues Revised Publications on the Employment Rights of People with Specific Disabilities

EEOC The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued four revised documents on protection against disability discrimination. The documents address how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to applicants and employees with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities. These documents are available on the EEOC website at "Disability Discrimination, The Question and Answer Series." The revised documents reflect the changes to the definition of disability made by the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) that make it easier to conclude that individuals with a wide range of impairments, including cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities, are protected by the ADA.

HUD Issues New Guidance for Housing Providers to Assist Individuals in Moving from Institutions to Community Settings
Housing and Urban Development The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is encouraging public housing agencies and HUD-assisted housing providers to partner with state and local governments to provide more community-based housing. This new guidance supports state and localefforts to comply with the Olmstead decision. Because of the Olmstead decision, under Title II of the ADA it is against the law to have individuals with disabilities living in institutions when they can receive services, like everyone else, in their own communities.
Click here for the press release

Federal Reports Focus on Youth Issues

Federal Reports Focus on Crucial Youth Issues 

A pair of new federal reports tackles two crucial issues for young people - coordinating federal youth policies and reaching disconnected youth. And the people behind those reports will soon be available to discuss the findings with practitioners and policymakers around the country. 

Federal Collaboration
The first report comes from the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, which the Forum has been working with on ways to increase collaboration among federal departments and agencies in order to improve outcomes for children and youth. The group is composed of representatives from 12 federal departments and six federal agencies.

The report - Pathways for Youth: Draft Strategic Plan for Federal Collaboration- identifies objectives to achieve under three main goals: Promote coordinated strategies to improve youth outcomes; promote the use of evidence-based and innovative strategies at the federal, state, local and tribal levels; and promote youth engagement and partnerships to strengthen programs and benefit youth.

Disconnected Youth

The second report was issued by the Interagency Forum on Disconnected Youth, which works to improve educational, employment and other key outcomes for disconnected youth through interagency and intergovernmental collaboration. The Forum has been advising this group as well, as part of its mission to advocate for public policies that support collaboration.

Last year the Interagency Forum asked organizations about the best ways to serve disconnected youth. The 171 responses to that Request for Information (which was issued through the Department of Education) are summarized by theme in this draft report. The themes include data issues, evaluation, interim indicators and outcome measures, partnerships, alternative pilot designs, and targeted subpopulations.


The New Yorkers For Children Spirit Award
Deadline: July 12

The New Yorkers For Children Spirit Award is a $10,000 scholarship awarded each year to one young person in foster care who is succeeding in college. The recipient has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills, a commitment to their community, and determination and ability to overcome the barriers to academic success. You must have been in foster care in New York City on or after your 16th birthday, be currently enrolled in a 2- or 4- year college or university, and have completed at least a full year of college.

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!    @YOUTHPOWERNY