YOUTH POWER nothing about us without us YP!

In this eNews
Spreading Hope Through Sharing Our Stories Web Event
University of YOUTH POWER!
Upcoming Regional Forums
Stephanie Orlando Keynote Speaker NYAPRS Conference 2014
National Council on Disability Forum: Medicaid Managed Care
Three New Bills Support Career and Technical Education
SWAT's Youth Wellness Retreat
Youth M.O.V.E. National
Represent Wins Periodical of the Year!
Actress Rosie Perez Honors Youth in Foster Care
Bullying Focus Groups by the DDPC
Social Media Accessibility Online Dialogue
NYIC VISTA Positions Available Today
Click here to stay up to date with all of YP!'s events including upcoming youth forums.
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University of YOUTH POWER! 
Registration is now Open  
Spread Hope With US!
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TONIGHT At 6:00 pm -  YP! Hope Web Event!

ypspreadshope Join us on our Spreading Hope Through Sharing Our Stories Web Event on June 12th from 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm.


A group of young leaders share their powerful stories of overcoming adversity to remind young people there's still hope. This webinar will include story sharing and a Q&A panel. Also we will discuss how you can join YOUTH POWER! in promoting Hope and Recovery with our Instagram Campaign.


This webinar is focused on young people between the ages of 12-30 who have a disability and/or experience in the system.


Please register for Spreading Hope Through Sharing Webinar:


For more information contact Long Island Regional Youth Partner Desiree Moore at or 631-245-5289. 

University of YOUTH POWER!
Registration now open!

UYP Logo Sized

YOUTH POWER! is pleased to announce an exciting new opportunity for young leaders.  July 28-31 2014, YP! will host a conference modeled after a college experience.  University of YOUTH POWER! will take place in Albany NY at the College of Saint Rose.  We are inviting young people ages 18 to 30 to register with a major of Peer Advocacy or Systems Advocacy.  Registered students will be provided overnight accommodations in the dormitory as well as meals on campus.  

The UYP! Registration fee is $600 and will include: 
  • All classes and student activities
  • Student handbook and University of YP! t-shirt
  • Overnight lodging on July 28, 29 and 30
  • Meals on campus on July 28, 29, 30 and 31
Students who wish to stay off campus can register at a discounted amount of $360.

REGISTER FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF YOUTH POWER!. If you are unable to access Google Forms, you can download an alternative form here.


University of YOUTH POWER! is a broad social justice event focused on increasing skills of young leaders. We will include professors from the following fields of work: Disability Rights, Mental health, Addiction, Foster Care, Juvenile Justice, Labor, Independent Living and more!


Peer Advocacy: In this major, young people will develop competencies in areas such as: strategic sharing, engagement techniques, facilitation, advocacy, communication, self-help, wellness tools, addressing and preventing addiction, trauma informed approaches, identifying community based services, independent living, anti-stigma, building career pathways, rights and responsibilities, cultural competency, strength- based approaches, social marketing, budgeting and youth development.


Systems Advocacy: In this major, young people will develop competencies in areas such as:  Advocacy, leading boards and committees, public speaking, understanding government structures, terminology, campaign development, artivism, addressing disparities, recognizing privilege, disability history, systems coordination, professional writing, budgeting, networking, sustaining the movement, understanding politics and playing the game, rights and protection, keepin' it fresh.


UYP! will include a variety of activities and courses.  Students will be provided a customized schedule based on their interests and areas of development. A general outline of the event is as follows:


July 28, 2014 - Day 1:

12:00pm-2:30pm                     Arrivals, lunch and orientation

3:00pm-5:30pm                       General session

6:00pm-8:00pm                       Dinner flowing into evening activities 

8:00pm-11:30pm                     Evening activities and common areas open


July 29, 2014 - Day 2:

7:00am-9:00am                       Breakfast

9:30am-12:00pm                     Morning classes

12:00pm-1:30pm                     Lunch

2:00pm-5:30pm                       Afternoon classes

6:00pm-8:00pm                       Dinner flowing into Information Fair

8:00pm-11:30pm                     Information Fair and evening activities


July 30, 2014 - Day 3:

7:00am-9:00am                       Breakfast

9:30am-12:00pm                     Morning classes

12:00pm-1:30pm                     Lunch

2:00pm-5:30pm                       Afternoon classes

6:00pm-8:00pm                       YP!'s 7th Annual Leaders' Dinner*

8:00pm-11:30pm                     Evening activities and common areas open


July 31, 2014 - Day 4:

7:00am-9:00am                       Breakfast

9:30am-12:00pm                     Final activities

12:30pm-2:30pm                     Graduation ceremony with elected class speakers


*Students will have a meal and mingle with state leaders including agency Commissioners.  

The New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) is offering a fellowship program for those student who are interested in adding the concentration of Addiction to their major.  This fellowship will include full coverage of registration fees and opportunities to engage in OASAS advisory activities.  More information on the fellowship will be available at 


There is no other event in the country that is like the University of YOUTH POWER!.  Young leaders and Advocates do not want to miss this events.  Youth Advocate Supervisors should consider this a great training and networking opportunity for their employees.  


For more information visit our website or contact Zach Garafalo at or 518-432-0333 x26.

Save the Dates!

YOUTH POWER! Forums in a Region Near You

in a region near YOUth Mark your calendars! YOUTH POWER! wants to hear from you. Youth forums are occurring throughout the summer and we will be in your area sometime soon. Save these dates and stay tuned for additional information. More dates will be announced soon. 

Check here for up to date information.  





Central Regional Youth Forum


Central Logo Date: Saturday June 21

Time: 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Location: Southern Tier Independence Center, 135 E. Frederickson Street, Binghamton, NY


The forum will bring together youth and young adults between the ages of 12-28 who have personal experience with disability, foster care, juvenile justice, mental health challenges and addiction.


Advanced registration is required. 


Click here to download the registration form.

Click here to download the forum flyer.

Click here for information on how to join the regional team.

Long Island Regional Forum

Long Island Logo Date: June 27
Location: Wyandanch Ambulance Corp: 295 Merritt Avenue, Wyandanch, NY  11798
Time: Doors open at 4:00 pm, Event begins at 5:00 pm

Advanced Registration is required.

Click here to download the forum flyer and registration form.

Join us for our Annual Long Island Regional Youth Forum for:
- Art sessions
- Karaoke and talent showcase
- Meeting new friends, group discussions and advocacy talk
- Story sharing
- Making YP! Hope Cards (empowerment cards for young people in need of HOPE)

Contact: Desiree Moore, Long Island Regional Youth Partner: or 631-245-5289

New York City Youth Forum

nyc Date: July 18
Location: TBA

Join us for an evening of youth performances, entertainment, networking and community resources.
Advanced registration is required. For more information contact New York City Regional Youth Partner Pauline Gordon, or 347-880-2735. 
Click here to download the forum flyer.
Western Regional Youth Forum
WSTRN in block lettering and Western written under it
Date: Saturday July 19
Location: Buffalo
Time: 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm 

Advanced registration is required. For more information, contact Zach Garafalo at or 518-432-0333 ext. 26.
YP! Executive Director to Be a Keynote Speaker at NYAPRS Conference

Executive Director, Stephanie Orlando

YOUTH POWER!'s Executive Director, Stephanie Orlando will be a keynote speaker at this year's NYAPRS conference September 17-19.


If you are interested in submitting a workshop proposal to share your expertise click here for more information. 


To learn more about NYAPRS, visit their website.

National Council on Disability Medicaid Managed Care Forum
by Pauline Gordon

Five people sit at a table for a panel presentation with a power point projected behind them. On June 3rd of this year, the National Council on Disability held a forum focusing on Medicaid Managed Care in New York City. Medicaid Managed Care is a health plan in which groups of health care providers work together as a network to provide services for individuals, youth and families. The National Council on Disability is an independent federal agency that provides recommendations to the Congress and President on ways to improve the quality of services for individuals with disabilities nationwide. 

YP!'s Executive Director, Stephanie Orlando currently serves on the National Council on Disability and had an active role in facilitating a discussion panel at the forum. The panel raised awareness of how Medicaid Managed Care would affect the lives of youth involved in mental health services and the child welfare system. The panel had a diverse array of speakers that contributed their perspectives from a state agency, youth and family point of view on Medicaid Managed Care.

One of the most empowering moments of the forum was witnessing people with disabilities passionately speaking up about the ways to improve the system and Medicaid Managed Care. Government officials listened actively to the concerns and needs of the people that attended the forum. It's important as recipients of services to advocate for ourselves and others. As a participant, I was moved by the influence of the advocacy groups and the many people that attended the forum to advocate on behalf of others to promote a better health care system. 

Why should youth speak up about Medicaid Managed Care? 

As a former foster youth when I aged out of the foster care system I did not have a secure health care plan in place. Unfortunately when many youth transition out of the child-welfare system, we tend to not prioritize our health care services. When I was in the system, I had older adults like my case worker making decisions for me all the time so when I aged out of the system and had to start making more informed decisions on my own like figuring out how to get access to health care and how to pay for it. Also, during the time of aging out, everything felt so rushed. Within a limited amount of time before aging out of the system, I had to find a place to live, how to afford rent, apply for college and financial aid with very little parental support. Such decisions were very overwhelming and new to me at the age of 19. Also at the time I was informed that I would still be eligible for Medicaid so I wasn't too concerned about my health care being covered until one day I took a visit to a local clinic and was denied services. That's when I found out that I wasn't eligible for Medicaid because I aged out of the foster care system. Then I had to start seeking other alternatives. 

During my college years, I benefited from attending my college campus's clinic for acute care like medical checkups, vaccines, and over the counter prescriptions. After I graduated college, I no longer had access to my college campus's clinic. I had to struggle to figure out how to get access to health care services. At the time, I was no longer eligible for Medicaid because I aged out of foster care and my income was supposedly too high to meet eligibility requirements. Until I started working a full time job, I was able to have health insurance and started receiving the proper health care services I needed. 

Luckily youth don't have to face the same challenges I faced when I aged out of the foster care system. Recently under the Affordable Care Act, States must cover individuals under age 26 who were both enrolled in Medicaid and in foster care. There is also no income eligibility test. Regardless of income, a youth that has aged out of the foster care system should still be eligible for Medicaid up until the age of 26. 

YP! strongly encourages health care providers to have young adults in the system to be actively engaged in their treatment planning. Teaching self advocacy is how young people can learn to be independent and make more informed decisions on their own. For young people to transition from the child welfare system to the adult world after care can be a daunting experience. It's important that while in the system to be aware of your health care plan so that when you age out you know how to access services.  

 Youth Policy Brief:

Three New Bills Support Career & Technical Education

By Melanie Hecker

Melanie Hecker, Systems Advocate Now more than ever, high schools are introducing their students to the world of career education. Career and Technical education classes can boost the self-esteem of students and better help prepare them for the future. Career and Technical education is so important that Senator Felder, Chair of the New York State Senate New York City Education Sub Committee has introduced three new bills.


The first bill is numbered bill S7356. If passed, this bill will allow students to pursue a career/technical path to either a Regent's or Local diploma as an alternative to taking the five regents exams. With this alternative in place, students will be able to pursue a diploma by completing studies on a certain career path. A career/technical pathway was brought up because many feel that the current Regents pathway is too oriented toward students pursuing college and there aren't enough options for students entering the trades or other paths. This career/technical pathway will be available not just to students with disabilities, but rather any student who would like to pursue it. 

Before a Career/Technical diploma pathway can be put into use, there has to be a way to test how feasible it is and there have to be people who can provide advice on how a trade diploma can work. This is where bill S07357 comes in. If passed, the bill will create a temporary commission for establishing the Career/Technical pathway. This group of people will guide along the process of creating the career/technical pathway. 

One final step in putting a new pathway into place is testing it to see if it works. For this we have bill S7376. If this bill is passed, school districts in cities with a population over one million will serve as test subjects. These schools will be studied and recommendations will be made as to how this pathway can work and how to expand the pathway to more schools. 

YOUTH POWER! is working to advocate for multiple pathways to a high school diploma. We do not believe that a standardized test can truly measure someone's potential for success in the real world. YP! is a member of the the Diploma Options Coalition. This coalition is composed of a variety of organizations, including the Advocates for Children, Learning Disabilities Association of NYS, and Families Together in New York State. The Diploma Options coalition is statewide and has calls regularly to talk strategies for bringing new diploma options into schools. Read more about the Coalition's recommendations here.


Alternative diploma pathways are very important for high school students, both with disabilities and without. A variety of options are needed to serve students diverse goals. If you would like to help raise awareness about the lack of multiple pathways to high school graduation, you can join the Action Workgroup. Contact Melanie Hecker for details at or 518-432-0333 ext. 14.  
SWAT Youth Wellness Retreat July 23rd 

Youth Wellness Retreat Flyer: Summer 2014! Youth Wellness Retreat! Wednesday July 23rd, 10:00 am Parkview Lodge - Webster Park Holt Road Webster, NY 14580 Join SWAT to: - learn ways to take control of your physical and mental health, - raise awareness about wellness and break down stigma, - try out wellness activities in a fun and safe environment, - Discover new ways to find wellness through fun activities, - yoga, - karate, - mindfulness, a nature walk, healthy and fun food will be provided at lunch. Please RSVP to Biance Logan at 585-753-2638 or This event is for youth ages 14-24* SWAT is holding a Youth Wellness Retreat on July 23rd and it's going to be great! We have fun and informative activities and workshops planned for the day and we hope to see you there!

This event focuses on raising awareness about the stigma associated with mental health challenges. We will promote mental wellness. We are holding this event to give youth an opportunity to try wellness activities in a safe environment with peers that have had similar experiences. 


If you are between 12-24 please RSVP to Bianca Logan 585-753-2638 or

 Youth M.O.V.E. National: 

Board Members Wanted

Youth M.O.V.E. National logo Youth M.O.V.E National is currently accepting applications to review for new Board Members. This is an amazing way to connect and participate in directing the work of the youth MOVEment on the national level.

The Board is committed to Youth Driven work and are specifically looking for applications from Youth Advocates (under the age of 28) who are ready to tackle this leadership role. The Board has also conducted a survey of skill sets and is intentionally looking at the voices missing at the table.


If you are interested in joining Youth M.O.V.E National fill out the application here

 Represent Wins Periodical of the Year in the 2014 REVERE Awards

Represent Magazine LogoYOUTH POWER! would like to formally extend its congratulations to Youth Communication's foster care magazine, Represent. Represent won Periodical of the Year in the 2014 REVERE Awards for educational publishing, sponsored by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). 


The AAP is the national trade association of the American book publishing industry. This is the 21st time the AAP has honored our uniquely compelling teen-written stories, which compete each year against adult-written magazines published by Scholastic, The New York Times, Teaching Tolerance, and others.

 Rosie Perez Honors Resilient Teens at Awards For Youth in Foster Care

Actress Rosie Perez honors youth Actress Rosie Perez joined us to honor 15 young people in our annual foster care essay competition. Winners received scholarship checks ranging from $500 to $1,000. Ms. Perez, who was in foster care, herself, introduced Grand Prize Winner Christopher Sanchez, a gay teen who suffered years of abuse and torment. She then read from her new memoir, Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair), her never-before-told story about surviving a harrowing childhood.  


To read the full story, click here

 Bullying Focus Groups conducted by DDPC and UB

The Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention at the University at Buffalo, SUNY and the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council are conducting research about bullying incidents, coping strategies, resources and supports, and intervention and prevention strategies currently being used in schools and the community to address bullying involving individuals with developmental disabilities across New York State. The goal is to use the information to develop a strategic plan for bullying prevention and individuals with disabilities.


As a part of this study the research team will be conducting focus groups and interviews across the state. We invite anyone interested in participating to contact the Alberti Center at or (716) 645-1532. In addition to participating in a focus group or an interview, you may provide your input through a survey. An email to participate in the survey will be sent soon.


Please see below for more details on participating in a focus group:


We are interested in hearing from multiple sources about experiences of peer bullying and bullying victimization among individuals with developmental disabilities. Thus, we hope to include people from the following groups:


- Individuals with developmental disabilities - (children 12 and older, adults, self-advocates)

- Employers/Administrators/Organizational Leaders

- Staff - Anyone who provides any type of service to a person with a disability

- Family/Friends/Advocates 


Focus groups will be conducted in six areas of New York State during June and July of 2014. You may attend the focus group that best describes your relationship with people with developmental disabilities. The dates, times and locations are as follows:



Independent Living Center

3108 Main St.,

Buffalo, NY 14214


Tuesday, June 24

9am - 12pm Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

1pm - 4pm Employers/Administrators/Organizational Leaders

5pm - 8pm Families/Friends/Advocates


Wednesday, June 25

12pm - 3pm Staff



Metro DDRO

25 Beaver Street, 4th floorNY, NY 10004



Thursday, June 26

1pm - 3:30pm: Families/Friends/Advocates

4pm - 6:30pm: Employers/Administrators/Organizational Leaders


Friday, June 27

10am - 12:30pm Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

1pm - 3:30pm Staff



SUNY Downtown Campus

135 Western Ave,

Albany, NY 12222

Levitt Room, Page Hall


Thursday, July 10

12:30-3:00pm Families/Friends/Advocates

3:30-6:00pm Employers/Administrators/Organizational Leaders


Friday, July 11

10:00am-12:30pm Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

1:00-3:30pm Staff



Monroe County ARC

2060 Brighton-Henrietta Townline Rd.

Rochester, NY 14623


Tuesday, July 15

9am - 12pm Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

1pm - 4pm Employers/Administrators

5pm - 8pm Families/Friends/Advocates


Wednesday, July 16

1pm - 4pm Staff



Rehabilitation Center,

1439 Buffalo Street,

Olean, NY 14760


Monday, July 21

1pm - 4pm Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

5pm - 8pm Families/Friends/Advocates


Tuesday, July 22

9am - 12pm Staff

1pm - 4pm Employers/Administrators/Organizational Leaders



Southern Adirondack Independent Living Center

71 Glenwood Avenue

Queensbury, NY 12804


Thursday, July 24

12:30pm - 3:00pm Families/Friends/Advocates

3:30pm - 6:00pm Employers/Administrators/Organizational Leaders


FridayJuly 25

10:00am - 12:30pm Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

1:30pm - 4:00pm Staff



Participants in the focus groups will be invited to share their knowledge, experiences, and observations of bullying and victimization among individuals with developmental disabilities. Focus groups will be made up of 8-10 people and will follow a semi-structured format. Focus groups will be videotaped for purposes of transcription and further study. All data and information collected from participants will be kept secure and will only be accessible to members of the research team. All data will also be de-identified, meaning that a person's name will never be associated with any comments they make in the focus group or in demographic information that they share with the research team. Likewise, no names will appear in any documents or research reports that are made available to the public. Individuals will be identified by demographic information such as age, race, gender, and disability status in all documents or research reports made available to the public. If you have questions about protection and privacy, please contact Amanda B. Nickerson, Ph.D. at the Alberti Center.


If you are unable to attend a focus group, a limited number of interviews are being conducted. These interviews will be audiotaped for purposes of transcription and further study and will offer the same protection and privacy measures as in the focus groups. If you wish to participate in an interview, please contact the Alberti Center.


This project has been approved by the Social and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board at the University at Buffalo. Thank you in advance for your help with this project. If you have any questions about this project, please contact us at or (716) 645-1532. Thank you for considering our invitation to participate. 

 Social Media Accessibility Online Dialogue Extended through June 13

Co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the National Council on Disability (NCD), the second of three online dialogues focused on social media accessibility is currently underway and has been extended through Friday, June 13. Titled, "Advancing Accessibility and Inclusion in Social Media -The Tech Industry Perspective," this event is seeking ideas from the tech industry and others on how to best ensure social media is accessible to everyone. 


Through the use of a leading-edge crowdsourcing tool - that itself has been optimized for accessibility and usability - the first dialogue in the series gathered actual user recommendations on how to improve the accessibility of social media. Now NCD and ODEP are looking to members of the tech industry to respond on how these valuable ideas - and others like them - can be implemented to improve the design and development of social media tools, as well as suggestions for the most effective ways the social media industry can engage with the disability community for user feedback and ideas. Participants are encouraged to post ideas, comments and to vote on ideas posted by others.


Click here to register.

Job Opportunity:

Apply for NYIC AmeriCorps VISTA Positions Today

New York Immigration Coalition logo NYIC VISTAs are AmeriCorps VISTAs who - through the NYIC - engage in a year of full-time paraprofessional service in an agency, where they provide indirect support to immigrants living in poverty. NYIC VISTAs will be placed in 7 of the NYIC's Member Agencies, in addition to the NYIC itself, in order to build sustainable organizational capacity in one or more of the following areas:

  • Volunteer management
  • Communications
  • Fundraising
  • Administrative systems

The sustainable capacity built in these areas will then be used to support various anti-poverty programs and services directed at immigrant communities. 

NYIC VISTAs are supported with:

  • AmeriCorps VISTA orientation, provided by the Corporation for National and
  • Community Service (August 26-29, 2014)
  • NYIC VISTA 5-day training (September 2-6, 2014)
  • Monthly professional development/networking webinars
  • Monthly check-ins with NYIC staff
  • Ongoing networking opportunities with other NYIC VISTAs
  • Living allowance
  • Health insurance
  • Option of an end-of-year stipend or education award

The year of service for NYIC VISTAs is from September 1, 2014 to August 31, 2015


How to Apply for a NYIC VISTA Position
Create an account at and log in
Use the site's search tool to find the NYIC VISTA positions you are interested in (set Program Type, State and Program Name to "AmeriCorps VISTA", "New York" and "NYIC" respectively) or click on the appropriate hyperlinks in the following section of this email. Click on the "Apply Now" button for any position that you want to apply to
Applicants are encouraged to apply ASAP, as interviews will begin to be scheduled during the middle of this month.

Open NYIC VISTA Positions

The NYIC is currently seeking individuals to fill the following NYIC VISTA positions. Click on the hyperlinks below to learn more details about each individual position and the agency that it would be placed in.

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!

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