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Alert! #UYP15
University of YOUTH POWER! 
Registration is Opening March 3rd!

Visit our website for more information.




two cartoons of youth. one with a skate board the other with a phone. Text appears: Western Region Mental Health Waiver  Youth Peer Advocate Training  March 18 & 19, 2015 9:00am-5:00pm 1099 Jay St, Rochester, New York, Building J  FACT Office, Conference Room #10  



YOUTH POWER! and Cornell University are pleased to offer this first ever Mental Health Waiver Youth Peer Advocacy Training. 


March 18 & 19, 2015


1099 Jay St, Rochester, New York, Building J

FACT Office, Conference Room #10

Important information about the training:

  • Completion of this training will be required of all Youth Peer Advocates (YPA) working in the Mental Health Waiver programs.
  • Participants will receive a completion certificate.
  • As the first site, participants will be able to give feedback to enhance the training. 
  • This training will not be offered in the western region again in 2015.
  • Participants will also be expected to complete four online training components after the in person training.
  • Lunch will be provided.
  • This training is free for young adults who meet the YPA qualifications.
  • All participants must pre-register at this link:


This training is for young adults who will quality as candidates for YPA positions.

To qualify as a YPA one must:

  • be an individual 18 to 28 years old
  • be self-identified as a consumer or survivor of mental health services, special education or foster care;
  • have either a high school diploma, high school equivalency or a NYS State Education Commencement Credential (e.g. SACC or CDOS);
  • have the ability to maintain confidentiality
  • be cleared by the State Child Abuse Registry and Justice Center requirements; and 
  • complete fingerprinting for a criminal history background clearance


Do not miss this important opportunity!



Contact Stephanie Orlando at or 518-598-2467


Download the PDF flyer here.



Prepare For the Families Together Annual Conference
The FTNYS annual conference is full of exciting interactive opportunities including: educational workshops, an empowering keynote address, networking, a family dance, a popular auction, great exhibitors and wonderful food. This fun and empowering event only happens once a year!

This year's conference has something for everyone! 

The Youth Track, planned and delivered by the YOUTH POWER! network, offering workshops that are selected and delivered for and by young people to help build self-help and advocacy skills. The Youth Track is created for young people ages 12 - 25.

The Partner Track, designed for adults and youth to come together to unite and connect with each other, address topics that are of interest to both adults and youth, and make plans together to work together to improve the system.

The Family & Advocate Track, a great track for parents, caregivers, educators, staff and advocates. The Family & Advocate Track was developed based on what is important to you, the children and youth in your life, your family and your network.

The Leadership Track, created to address the needs of individuals who are in leadership roles and who work in the local, regional and statewide network.

March 6,2015 Family and Youth Scholarship Applications are Due!


The scholarship applicant must: 

  • Be a youth between the ages of 12 and 25 or a family member of a child or youth with social, emotional or behavioral challenges;
  • Show that, other than a scholarship from Families Together, there exists no available resources, i.e. from an applicant's affiliated program, to cover conference expenses; and
  • Be a resident of New York State.

HSC Foundation is seeking applicants for the Advocates in Disability Award 

HSC logo HSC Foundation is seeking applicants for the Advocates in Disability Award 


The Advocates in Disability Award (ADA) program awards and encourages a young adult with a disability between the ages of 14 and 26 who is dedicated to positively affecting the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families in the United States. The program also supports an innovative project developed by the recipient to serve and empower individuals with disabilities.


The ADA is a joint program of The HSC Foundation and the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. The selected recipient is awarded $3,000 in recognition of past disability advocacy and will receive up to an additional $7,000 in funding for a proposed project to benefit the disability community.

The deadline is April 10, 2015.


Read more about the award here: 


Youth In Foster Care: Medicaid to 26

 Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), youth who have aged-out of foster care - when they were 18 or older - are now eligible for Medicaid until they turn 26.  And once enrolled, youth will not have to reapply for Medicaid until they turn 26. That means no paper work, no renewals, and no interruption in health insurance. Youth will also not need to provide any income information when applying, as this benefit is not based on how much you earn.


Youth who were in foster care outside of New York State, but now live in New York, are also eligible. New York is one of a few states that have agreed to provide coverage to all former foster care youth, even if they were in foster care in another state.


Schuyler Center has developed materials to help youth and service providers understand and access the benefit.  For more information, and to access these materials, visit:   


Schuyler Center has also launched a survey for young people who are currently in foster care and or have aged out foster care. This survey is to collect data that help to analyze how aware youth in foster care or transition from foster care are of this opportunity. 


To take this survey click here: 
On the Spectrum? Join ASAN NY 

If you  identify as autistic there is a great new opportunity for you. A few members of YP! have started up a New York State Chapter of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN).  ASAN's mission is to provide a strong network for autistic self-advocates to build off one another and work together to improve the system for autistics all over the country. This statewide chapter plans to improve autistic voice all over New York State. We are looking to include members from all over the state in this new initiative.


If you are interested in joining this new and exciting chapter, contact Melanie Hecker at or 518-432-0333 ex. 14



WSTRN in block lettering and Western written under it Western New York Independent Living, Inc is looking to run focus groups across youth Ages 14-24. The youth include developmental, mental health, behavioral health; this is to include Substance Abuse, Environmental, Trauma and Eating Disorders. The Focus groups will be made up with stakeholders in the following areas: outside Agencies (working with youth with developmental, mental health including substance abuse, eating disorders etc.), parents/guardians, teachers, and youth 14-21 (in and out of school). 


The focus groups will run approximately 2 hours in length and will be split into individual stakeholders groups. (Parent and Youth groups may be facilitated at same time separate rooms for convenience.)


The more stakeholders involved the better outcome to create needed services as identified by those that are affected.


Western NY Independent Living, Inc. is  looking to start with groups in Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County. We will also look at other groups as well, once again the more information the better we can serve.


To set up focus groups Please contact Lynnette Torgalski (716) 836-0822 x154 or 

Christine Hoff x143



Western NY Peer Leader Support and Development Group


Jessica Hollins



WSTRN in block lettering and Western written under it YP! is the NYS network of young people who have been labeled in state system's and are seeking change. YP! works to increase the availability and competency of Peer Leaders*.


PLSD is a mutual support group for young peer leaders and advocates from across the nineteen counties of Western New York.   Young leaders will get support from fellow youth advocates and learn from their experiences.  The group will also include skill development opportunities. This support should enhance each member's ability to be an effective peer leader.  

This group will cover topics such as but not limited to:

  • Leadership development
  • Group facilitation
  • How to deal with conflict when working with youth
  • Way's in which you can advocate 
  • Cultural Competence
  • Understanding youth culture
  • Budgeting your group or group's project
  • System Advocacy

To RSVP please contact your regional partner via email at or by phone 585-314-2452 calls will be the first Thursday of every month.


*For PLSD - the term Peer Leaders is defined as young people who have personal experience with disability or state systems such as Mental health, Addiction, Juvenile Justice and Foster Care and volunteer or are employed to empower and support other young people who share similar experiences.



Nationwide Disability Day of Mourning Approaching

On Sunday, March 1st, disability groups all over the country will be observing the Day of Mourning. On this day we take time to mourn the loss of disabled individuals who were killed by their own parents or caregivers. Organizations that participate in the Day of Mourning include Autistic Self Advocacy Network, ADAPT, Not Dead Yet, National Association of Independent Living, and a lot more. Vigils are to be held all over the country and the world. Below is a list of New York State vigils and their contact points, courtesy of ASAN:


Brooklyn, NY
Debra Baker,

Flushing, NY
Marvin Finkelstein,

New City, NY
Jason Ross,

Rochester, NY
Diane Coleman,


Visit for more information.

Regional Teams Are Recruiting!
in a region near YOUth YP! is currently looking for young people who want to make something happen for the youth movement in their region. Currently all YP! Regional Youth Partners (RYP) are recruiting for their regional teams. As a member of the regional team you get to plan your regional forums, lead regional campaigns and projects, connect with other young people and network youth groups across the state.

To join a regional Team you must be a YP! member. Membership Link

If you are interested please contact your Regional Youth Partner.

Hudson River:
New York City:

If you are unsure of your region visit our website at this link.

New Positive Youth Development Curriculum offered by 
ACT for Youth

Positive Youth Development 101: A Curriculum for YouthWork Professionals

Authored by Jutta Dotterweich, this brand new curriculum offers an orientation to the youth development approach for professionals just entering the field of youth work. Use this free curriculum to provide professional development to new youth workers, supervisors and administrators, funders, and community volunteers. The 10-hour curriculum is structured in five distinct sections, each of which may be presented as a stand-alone workshop. Topics include:

  • Positive Youth Development principles and theory
  • Positive Youth Outcomes
  • Youth Voice and Engagement
  • Youth Development Programming
  • Youth Worker Competencies

I Am Norm
By: Katie Rushlo

"I am Norm" tee shirts, tags, flyers, stickers, throughout the event... what are these?" Who is this Norm person, he must be pretty popular." "Maybe I will meet him sometime this weekend during the event", "I wonder if he is a key note speaker"... All things running through my mind as I set up my first table display for YOUTH POWER! for Syracuse University's Disabled and Proud: Dare to Dream Event in  November 2014.


So what was up with Norm?... Well... It started out as 20 young people, with and without disabilities, meeting in Washington DC for a weekend in January 2010. Coming from diverse backgrounds and places, these youth shared common ideas and they wanted to see change. This group of young people built a campaign to address the changes they wanted to see. After a weekend of work, these youth created a campaign to raise awareness about inclusion, provide opportunities for youth to share ideas about inclusion, and promote inclusive practices in schools and communities. "I am Norm" wants to encourage acceptance, respect, and authentic inclusion for all youth - including those with disabilities in schools and communities.


So almost five years later, a group of young people represent the "I am Norm" campaign were tabling at Syracuse University's event. These young people were students of Liverpool High School. After talking with the group about what they do and what they believe in I was interested in learning more about them. A few weeks later I went to one of their meeting after school. I learned all that they have done in the past year, and what their upcoming plans are. One of their goals was to become an organized club at the school, rather than just a group representing a campaign, they want to help form "I am Norm" clubs in other schools to promote inclusion, but they needed to start with their own school. Visiting with these youth, we bounced ideas off one another about becoming a club and how to promote their mission to other schools. I was even able to gain 2 members for my Regional Planning Team from the meeting.


In December 2014, I had a meeting with my Regional Planning Team, where it was announced that I was now looking at the President and Vice President of the "I am Norm" Club at Liverpool High School! I was so happy for them as a club and individually for working hard for their leadership roles. The club meets after school every Tuesday, and is active in their school to promote inclusion and to reduce bullying. The club recently created a mural in the hallway of painted puzzle pieces with descriptive words written on them, linked together to represent inclusion. To add to this, students took cut out puzzle pieces and wrote something describing themselves and stuck it to the mural. Another project the club worked on to reach the entire school was to do positive sticky notes. The club wrote positive messages on countless sticky notes, and then posted them on every desk in every classroom. 


The students admitted to the positivity it brought to the day. The Liverpool High School I am Norm Club is not only supporting the campaign in their community, but seeking to bring it to new communities. "At Liverpool High School, different is the Norm" 


ACCES-VR Holds State Plan Public Meetings


The New York State Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services- Vocational Rehabilitation, or ACCES-VR, with the State Rehabilitation Council, recently held its public meetings across New York State to assist in the development of their State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Services.  Individuals with disabilities, their families, advocates, employers and service providers were all invited to attend the meetings.


On January 29th, the Capital District Public Hearing was held in Albany and was attended by numerous individuals, including members and staff of YOUTH POWER!  The host provided an overview and introduction to the State Plan Updates and requirements before moving into formal testimony.  Individuals who testified voiced the need for benefits advisement, as well as the need for emphasis on work readiness, soft skills, and internship opportunities for clients.  Additionally, the need for increase in vocational rehabilitation counseling, as well as transportation barriers were also popular topics of discussion.


As the meeting transitioned into the public comment and discussion question portion of the meeting, YP! voiced the use of career focused mentoring as an effective tool for improving employment outcomes for youth.  Linking clients to such programs would assist in their development of soft skills and work readiness, as well as link them to employer partners for site visits, job shadowing, internship opportunities and employment.  Additionally, YP! voiced developing partnerships within the business community to assist with educating about hiring individuals with disabilities. 


ACCES-VR is seeking to increase the percentage of and quality of employment outcomes for all eligible individuals who want to work.  This year's public meeting discussion was focused on ideas for change that would lead to improved employment outcomes for individuals who are receiving vocational rehabilitation services.  Although all the State Plan Meetings have been held, there is still time to make your voice heard.  Comments and recommendations may be submitted in writing or electronically through February 23. To view the current State Plan for Vocational Rehabilitation and Supported Employment Services, the list of discussion questions, and information how to submit your comment, please visit 


Stay Engaged During Black History Month 2015

Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration during the month of February where we as a nation pause to celebrate the achievements of black Americans and a time to recognize the central role of African Americans in U.S. History.  It grew out of "Negro History Week," which was first organized in 1926 by an organization now known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). 


In the decades after, mayors across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week.  By the 1960's, thanks in part to the Civil Rights moment, the week evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses;  President Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976 and called upon the public to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."  Since President Ford, every American president has designated February as Black History Month; even this year in his proclamation, President Obama called upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all people in the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities.


There are numerous individuals whose names may not appear prominently in our history books, but nonetheless were important in shaping our national identity and everyday life.  Individuals like Lonnie Johnson who invented the number one selling toy in 1991, the Super Soaker water gun, or Percy Lavon Julian who invented cortisone which is used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.  Or perhaps Garret Morgan who invented the gas mask and automatic traffic signal, as well as Alexander Miles who improved the method of opening and closing of elevator doors and access to elevator shafts.  Other inventions such as the air conditioning unit, clothes dryer, the cellular phone, dust pan, typewriter, lawn mower, iron board, lawn sprinkler, street sweeper, guitar and many more were all created by black inventors and very integral to our comfort, health, communication, leisure and everyday life as we know it.


Stay engaged this Black History Month, research accomplishments of African Americans, get involved in events or service projects in your community and make a positive impact!  If you would like to read President Obama's proclamation in honor of Black History Month, you can do so by going to:


The views and opinions expressed in third party messages and external links included in this eNews are those of the organization or individual mentioned. They do not necessarily reflect the official positions of YOUTH POWER!.
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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