YOUTH POWER nothing about us without us YP!

In this eNews
Spreading Hope Through Sharing Our Stories: Follow Us On Instagram
Members Only! Call for Submissions
YP! Leaders Appointed to the New York State Independent Living Council
The National Foster Care Youth & Alumni Policy Council
YP! Assistant Director Invited to Participate in One Young World Summit
Beat The Holiday Blues!
RAMP Guest Speaker Addresses Bulllying
Legislative Awareness Day
Feedback Needed for OMH Website Redesign
USICD Internships-Youth In Development
New Affordable Care Act Funding to Increase Access to Mental Health Services
Presidential Proclamation: International Day of Persons with Disabilities
MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE NEXT THREE WEEKS: Support the Employability of People with Disabilities
Youth Leadership Institute in the Capital District
Career Path Internships: Excellent Opportunity in Community Development
Municipal Leadership for Disconnected Youth

YOUTH POWER! almost has 1000 likes on our Facebook page. Help us get there!
Keep Calm and Merry On May Your Days Be Merry and Bright.

Best wishes for a joyous holiday season and New Years from the Board and Staff of YOUTH POWER!

Spreading Hope is now on Instagram!


Spreading Hope YP! Campaign

Join Our YOUTH POWER! Spreading Hope Instagram Campaign. #YPHOPE @YPSPREADSHOPE #YOUTHPOWER 


The goal of our Spreading Hope Instagram Campaign is for young people in the system and youth with disabilities to know there is hope. 


Here's how you can join the Hope Campaign: 1. Follow our instagram page @YPSPREADSHOPE. 2. Create a photo that shares a message of hope either using an app or by holding a hand made sign. 3. Upload your photo and the hash tag #YPHOPE #HOPE #YOUTHVOICE #YOUTHPOWER 


Don't have an Instagram go to or send photos to Desiree Moore, [email protected]. For more information about YOUTH POWER! Visit and like us at


In December 2012, Long Island Regional Team leaders had a vision to break down stigma around mental health and various child serving systems and to inform young people in the system that there is hope. Spreading Hope through Sharing Our Stories emerged to fulfill this vision. Through visiting public schools, alternative schools, group homes, foster homes, hospitals, hosting events and other outreach, we will share groups of young leaders who share our stories of overcoming adversity in various child serving systems such as disabilities, foster care, juvenile justice, mental health, and much more with youth and young adults. Through sharing powerful stories we will reduce stigma around these systems and increase peer support and remind young people there is always hope and recovery is possible.


If you are in the Long Island area and you interested in becoming a hope spreader please contact Desiree Moore, Long Island Regional Youth Partner  [email protected] or 631-245-5289.

MEMBERS ONLY! Call for Submissions
For Member By Member Newsletter



YP! Leaders Appointed to the New York State Independent Living Council

Logo of the New York State Independent Living Council On December 16, the New York State Board of Regents voted to confirm YP! Board Member Marc Rosen and Assistant Director Zach Garafalo to the New York State Independent Living Council (NYSILC) effective January 1, 2014.  NYSILC is responsible for jointly developing, monitoring and evaluating the 3-year Statewide Plan for Independent Living (SPIL). NYSILC conducts surveys, develops reports, and has an active committee statewide that addresses significant issues affecting New Yorkers with disabilities.


Marc was re-appointed to a three year term as the youth representative and Zach was appointed to his first three year term. 


On his appointment, Zach remarked: "As active citizens with and without disabilities, it is our collective responsibility to be engaged as partners in policy. I am eager to listen to and learn from leaders within the disability rights and independent living communities. Equally important, as a young person who has successfully transitioned to adulthood with ADHD and a learning disability, I intend to use my lived experience to contribute to the dialogue to ensure that all people with disabilities and their loved ones have the resources they need to make informed and supported decisions about their lives." When asked about his appointment, Marc noted: "although funding may have forced NYSILC to suspend some of its priorities focusing on youth, I will do everything in my power to ensure that the needs of youth with disabilities in New York State are properly assessed and met."


NYSILC has recently launched the initial support stage for its vision to develop a Leadership Development and Civic Engagement Program. NYSILC wants to grow new leaders by mentoring people with all types of disabilities and ages. In addition, NYSILC will promote civic engagement, which means NYSILC wants people with disabilities and those who support us to stand-up for our right to vote, to work, to receive an education and to be involved in community life with the same access as everyone else.


YOUTH POWER! has a long history of working with state agencies and providing input into statewide programs and policy development. YP! employees frequently identify other young people to mentor and develop as young "change agents" on councils and taskforces. YP! intends to increase youth voice within independent living and disability rights movements. 

YP! RYP on National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council
Pauline Gordon, NYC Regional Youth Partner

A group pic of the National Foster Care Youth and Policy Council with screenwriter, author and film producer, Antwone Fisher 

Pictured above: Recent group photo of the National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council with screenwriter, author and film producer, Antwone Fisher; Antwon was a former youth in foster care

The National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council is an assembly of foster youth and alumni who are advocates and have lived experience in the child welfare system.


When I was approached about the opportunity of joining the Council, I was excited about being able to advocate for foster youth on a national level. As a former foster youth, I felt compelled to take advantage of the opportunity and raise awareness of issues concerning youth in foster care especially transition age youth. The council is made up of a diverse group of foster youth and alumni who have experienced the child welfare system. The Council consists of 22 members geographically distributed across the country. YP! member and Families Together in NYS Youth Board member, Jarel Melendez currently serves on the Council as well. "As a council member, it's crucial to weigh in on a youth perspective when it comes to deciding on issues concerning the lives of young people."


The Council provides recommendations to federal stakeholders that will affect children and families throughout the country.  In addition, the Council is charged with monitoring and measuring the efficiency of programs and policies. The Council is a development in partnership between Foster Care Alumni of America and FosterClub, with the support from Casey Family Programs.


Some of the Council's major accomplishments was meeting with Administration for Children and Families former Assistant Secretary, George Sheldon to discuss foster youth vulnerability to sex predators and transition planning challenges for foster youth. When meeting with former Assistant Secretary, George Sheldon, he was attentive and valued recommendations.  Youth with lived experience in the system are influential advocates because they know firsthand how the system effects youth and families, Early this year,  the Council has released a set of recommendations titled, "Response to Trauma: Improving Youth Engagement and Access to Mental Health Services."

YP! Assistant Director Invited to 

One Young World Summit in Ireland in 2014

One Young World Logo Zach Garafalo was recently invited to be a delegate to the One Young World Summit in Dublin, Ireland next October. To attend, Zach needs to fundraise the admission fee and costs associated with travel. Please consider making a donation to help him attend. Click here to visit his page on One Young World.


One Young World gathers together the brightest young people from around the world, empowering them to make lasting connections to create positive change. The Olympics is the only international event that brings more young people together.


Each year, an annual Summit is staged where the most valuable young talent from global and national companies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's), universities and other forward-thinking organizations are joined by world leaders, acting as the One Young World Counselors.  


At past Summits delegates were joined by a line-up of Counselors who included Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Bob Geldof, Kofi Annan, Sir Richard Branson, Professor Muhammad Yunus, Jamie Oliver, Jack Dorsey and Arianna
Huffington. Click here to find out more about past Counselors. 

After each Summit, the delegates, who are then known as One Young World Ambassadors, work on their own initiatives or lend the power of the One Young World network to those initiatives already in existence. Of those in employment, many return to their companies and set about creating change from within, energizing their corporate environment. 

Please help Zach raise enough funds to attend the summit and contribute as a leader in the global community by covering the total cost of the One Young World Delegate fee.
Please consider promoting this through your social networks, corporate giving programs and other avenues.

Beat The Holiday Blues!

Colleen Deitrich, Central Regional Youth Partner

Tis the Season! The holidays are a great time of year for food, fun and family. But many young people feel stressed or depressed by this season as well. Don't worry, this feeling is actually very common. Lots of people feel stressed this time of year, and many more feel depressed. The fact is, this time of year is about increased emotions, and sometimes bad feelings can surface as well as good ones. In case you're feeling the Holiday Blues, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your holiday:


1: Go Outside!  Many people feel depressed this time of year because of the changing seasons and the greying skies. Bundle up and go for a walk, and you'll find that even limited amounts of sun can instantly lift your mood!


2: Stick To Your Normal Routine!  The holidays have a way of messing up your schedule. Be sure to make an effort to keep as much familiarity as possible, and you'll feel more comfortable adjusting to the changes.


3: Get Nostalgic! Holidays have a habit of bringing out the inner child in everyone. Have some fun and watch those old specials on TV with friends! The laughter will help you feel better, and you'll be amazed at how quickly old memories can come back!


4: Sing! It has been scientifically proven that singing releases a hormone in your brain that makes you happier. Even if you're embarrassed of singing out loud, hum or whistle a carol or two!


5: Surround Yourself With Friends! Most people see holiday time as family time, but don't neglect your peers and friends! Hanging out with people your own age can be a great de-stressing activity.


6: Spend Time Doing Non-Holiday Related Things!  Do something for yourself, but make it non-holiday related. This will take a little of the holiday pressure off you, but still give you some time to do something you really enjoy.


7: See a Movie! Lucky for us, this time of year is one of the best times of the year for new movies to hit theaters. Going to a movie helps young people temporarily forget the issues in the outside world, and the movie isn't necessarily holiday-themed!


8: Start a journal! If you're feeling lonely and can't meet with friends, start a journal and use writing exercises to help you feel calm and happy! Write about your idea for a perfect party, what the holidays would be like if you were in control, or even invent your own holiday!  


Tips from 

RAMP Guest Speaker Addresses Bullying

Elijah Fagan-Solis, Mentoring Coordinator

Bullying Risks and Children with Disabilities On Tuesday, November 19, 2013, the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) of YOUTH POWER! brought in a community speaker to address not only a very important community problem, but a problem that program youth have personal experience with.


Adene Karhan, of the Parent Network of the Capital Region (PNCR), presented on 'Bullying Risks and Children with Disabilities' to youth, mentors and parents. The presentation and training explored the risks that children with disabilities face in all bullying-related roles and discussed steps that can be taken to help prevent and resolve bullying. Youth also discussed different types of bullying that occur both inside and outside of the school.


Youth shared personal stories and experiences and received advice on how to address future similar situations.  Mentoring Coordinator Elijah Fagan-Solis was excited about the evening: "Youth shared stories of bullying by a group of former friends, situations that occurred in front of their homes, as well as experiences where their teacher was the one doing the bullying.  Adene (Karhan) did a wonderful job of explaining student rights, criminal laws that may apply to bullying, and providing situational advice to youth, mentors and parents. The entire presentation was very clear, thorough, helpful, and appreciated by all. I'm excited to partner with them (PNCR) in the future." Materials were distributed that contained various tip sheets, internet safety steps to protect against cyber bullying, as well as a fact sheet on the Dignity for All Students Act. If you are interested in any of the materials, please contact Elijah.


The Parent Network of the Capital Region (PNCR) is one of thirteen special education parent technical assistance centers throughout the state, funded by a grant from the New York State Education Department. The mission of the PNCR is to provide parents with the knowledge, skills, resources and support to effectively advocate for their children and to facilitate productive relationships between parents and school districts for the benefit of students with disabilities. We offer these services free-of-charge to parents, service providers, disability organizations and schools in the thirteen county area of the Capital Region.


The YP! 2013 - 2015 Priority Agenda brings awareness to anti-bullying initiatives. Bullying and discrimination will not be tolerated and victims deserve the highest level of respect and protection. Furthermore, we feel bullies need youth-driven support and positive interventions. We call on every person in New York State to address this important community problem. YP! calls for support of bullying prevention and intervention programs not only in schools but across state systems, in local communities and on the internet. Peer mediation programs should be available in all school settings. 

Legislative Awareness Day Tuesday, February 11, 2014. Registration Open


Families Together in New York State's Annual Legislative Awareness Day is Tuesday, February 11, 2014. Registration is open and we hope you encourage your network to attend the event. This year, we have a goal of bringing 750 people from across New York State together for our event...but we need your help to make that happen. Folks can register HERE, or by visiting our website at Thank you for helping us get the word out!


FTNYS is working with the New York State Coalition for Children's Mental Health Services to bring folks to Albany for their Children's Coalition Family Advocacy Training as well as our Legislative Awareness Day.  The Children's Coalition Family Advocacy Training will be held the night before our event, on Monday, February 10, 2014 from 3:30pm - 5:00pm at the Hilton Hotel on Lodge Street in Downtown Albany. The Family Advocacy Training is free and open to Coalition members and non-members.  More information and registration may be found on their website at


If you have any questions regarding either events, please contact Brad Hansen, Public Policy Coordinator, at 518.432.0333 x 28 or [email protected]



 Feedback Needed for OMH Website Redesign

OMH logo The NYS Office of Mental Health is in the initial stages of redesigning its website.  OMH would like to hear from anyone who uses or has used our website.  If you don't use our website, please use this as an opportunity to tell why, and what type of information you would like to see, or see presented differently.


Click here to access the survey.

 U.S. International Council on Disabilities 

Youth In Development Internship Program

U.S. International Council on Disabilities CALL FOR APPLICANTS


Youth in Development (YiD) Internship Program


The summer 2014 Youth in Development (YiD) Internship Program is now open for applications from November 11, 2013, through January 29, 2014


The United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) launched the YiD internship program in 2013.  The YiD program focuses on youth with disabilities  from across the U.S. who are interested in international development and foreign affairs careers. The project follows from a vision, core to USICD's mission, to increase disability inclusion in U.S. foreign affairs by supporting future generations of Americans with disabilities to invest their skills and talents in this field. 


The summer 2014 YiD internship program will bring a group of talented graduate students, recent graduates, and rising college juniors and seniors with disabilities to Washington, DC, for nine weeks.  This will include a one-week training and orientation program followed by an eight-week internship at an international organization in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.  USICD will cover the cost of fully-accessible housing during the YiD program, reimburse travel expenses to and from DC, and provide a limited stipend.  It is anticipated that the program will run from May 25 to July 25, 2014. These dates may be subject to change.  


You can also download a printable handout about the YiD internship program


Application deadline for the summer 2014 YiD program is January 29, 2014.


In addition to coordinating the YiD program, USICD leads the campaign for U.S. ratification of the "Disability Treaty"--the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  Campus and student leaders are a key source of energy in mobilizing others to take action.  If you want to connect with campus/student leaders at other colleges/universities in support of CRPD ratification, please communicate with [email protected].  Learn more about the CRPD at Disability Treaty. Campus and student leaders also can organize themselves via Facebook.

New Affordable Care Act Funding to Increase Access to Mental Health Services 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plans to invest $50 million to help Community Health Centers develop or expand health services for people living with mental illness or drug or alcohol problems. The funds, made available through the Affordable Care Act, will help about 200 of these centers hire new mental health and substance use disorder professionals and add new services.

President Obama Proclaims December 3, 2013
International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Seal of The White House The White House


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release - December 02, 2013


Presidential Proclamation









Nearly a quarter century has gone by since our Nation passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a landmark civil rights bill that enshrined the principles of inclusion, access, and equal opportunity into law. The ADA was born out of a movement sparked by those who understood their disabilities should not be an obstacle to success and took up the mission of tearing down physical and social barriers that stood in their way. On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we celebrate the enormous progress made at home and abroad and we strengthen our resolve to realize a world free of prejudice.


Every child deserves a decent education, every adult deserves equal access to the workplace, and every nation that allows injustice to stand denies itself the full talents and contributions of individuals with disabilities. I was proud that under my Administration the United States signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an international convention based on the principles of the ADA, and I urge the Senate to provide its advice and consent to ratification. By joining the 138 parties to this convention, the United States would carry forward its legacy of global leadership on disability rights, enhance our ability to bring other countries up to our own high standards of access and inclusion, and expand opportunities for Americans with disabilities -- including our 5.5 million disabled veterans -- to work, study, and travel abroad.


My Administration remains committed to leading by example. This year, as we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act, we updated rules to improve hiring of veterans and people with disabilities, especially among Federal contractors and subcontractors. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurers can no longer put lifetime dollar limits on essential health benefits for Americans with disabilities. And in January, it will be illegal to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions.


The changes achieved in the last two decades speak to what people can accomplish when they refuse to accept the world as it is. Today let us once again reach for the world that should be -- one where all people, regardless of country or disability, enjoy equal access, equal opportunity, and the freedom to realize their limitless potential.


NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 3, 2013, as International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I call on all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.


IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.




To view the Proclamation, click here.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE NEXT THREE WEEKS: Support the Employability of People with Disabilities 

The New York State Independent Living Council (NYSILC) wrote a letter to Governor Cuomo to encourage him to support the NGA Chair's Initiative "A Better Bottom Line,"make it a priority in upcoming State-of-the-State address, and initiative programs to improve the employability of New Yorkers with disabilities.


The letter makes recommendations and insists there must be an over-arching goal of reducing the employment gap for New Yorkers with disabilities by 10-15% over the next 10 years utilizing a comprehensive program of targeted strategies.



New Yorkers with disabilities face some startling equal opportunity gaps: 
* The employment rate for a New Yorker with a disability (ages 18-64) is 31.2% compared to 72% for a person without a disability resulting in a gap of 40.8 percentage points. 
* The poverty rate for New Yorkers with disabilities ages 18 to 64 living in the community is 28.6%, which is more than twice that of persons in our state without disabilities (12.3%). 
* Among civilians age 16 or older during the last 12 months, New Yorkers with disabilities earned $10,903 less on average compared to a person without a disability ($21,581 versus $32,484). 
* Labor force participation rates by race and disability (25-34 years of age) note large gaps for racial and ethnic minorities with disabilities (a 44.5% gap between Black disabled and non-disabled individuals and a 35.7% gap between Hispanic/Latino disabled and non-disabled individuals).


To sign the petition, click here

Youth Leadership Institute in the Capital District

Puerto Rican Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute

Logo of Puerto Rican Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute Questar III invites you to nominate students in grades 11 and 12 to participate in the 2014 Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute. 


Last year 13 high school Latino students from the Capital District participated in the Institute. 


The Angelo Del Toro Puerto Rican/Hispanic Youth Leadership Institute is sponsored by the New York State Puerto Rican Hispanic Task Force and the New York State Education Department. The goals of the Institute are to develop leadership skills in Latino/Hispanic youth; to create opportunities for Latino/Hispanic students to interact with positive role models such as Puerto Rican/Latino elected officials, educators, and business leaders; to create partnerships and conversations among educators, business leaders and students, and to develop in depth knowledge of the state legislative process. This year's Institute is scheduled to be held from March 22-24, 2014.

 During the three-day Institute in Albany, students participate in leadership activities, network with high school students from across New York State, participate in a mock assembly, interact with legislatures and attend a Student Recognition Dinner. In preparation for the Institute a local training program sponsored by the Capital District RBERN is conducted.


"The point of this conference is to say to you that you can do it can influence public policies and state policies. You can influence how the government and how society goes on. And that's very important."
--Angelo Del Toro, 1991


If you have any questions, please feel free to call 518-479-6859.


To download the scholarship application, click here.

To download the 2014 Capital Region Application, click here.

To download the rating rubric, click here.

To download the rating rubric in Spanish, click here.

Career Path Internships

Excellent Opportunity in Community Development

Gateway to Entrepreneurial Tomorrows Logo Gateway to Entrepreneurial Tomorrows, Inc. (GET) --a nonprofit community development organization with offices in Poughkeepsie and Newburgh-- is seeking young interns with a desire to jump-start a career promoting economic development among women and minorities.
Best suited, but not limited, to college students in the fields of social services, marketing, media and communications and finance. Knowledge of Spanish preferable. 
GET is expanding its offereings in the Mid Hudson region and this might be your opportunity to start new projects from the group up. Learn entrepreneurial traits that will help you for life or receive free assistance in starting your own business/organization.
If interested, submit your resume/bio with letter of intent to [email protected] No calls please.

 Grant Opportunity:

Municipal Leadership for Disconnected Youth

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Amount: $250,000

Grant Period: 3/1/2013 to 2/28/2014

Program: Pathways Out of Poverty Program Area: Improving Community Education

Geographic Focus: United States


This grant will enable the National League of Cities Institute to continue to increase the capacity of municipal leaders. The hope in increasing is to expand education options for disconnected youth. Recommended support will enable the grantee to sustain and strengthen these networks and explore ways to deepen the focus of each network on postsecondary access and success strategies. 
To find out more, visit Mott's Grant Website
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