YOUTH POWER nothing about us without us YP!

In this eNews
Register Today for the Families Together Annual Conference
FTNYS Conference Banner
This year's theme, Building Strong Roots for Success:  Embracing Change Together sets the stage for interactive and educational workshops, an empowering keynote address, networking, the family dance and lots of fun.  Don't forget the great exhibitors and wonderful food!

FamiliesTogether and YOUTH POWER! collaborate to host the Partners' Track which features workshops on youth and adult partnerships. This year's track includes:
  • Youth Peer Support Throughout the Community 
  • Hope and Courage: Laying Down the Bricks to the Yellow Brick Road

YOUTH POWER! is proud to announce the Youth Track workshops!
  • Systems Advocacy 101
  • Public Speaking and Strategic Sharing
  • Off the Beaten Path - Journeys of Recovery and Peer Advocacy
  • Harnessing Hip Hop
  • Youth Transition Services
  • Speak Out-Prep 
Join YP! and FTNYS for the 11th Annual Youth Speak-Out!

The FTNYS Annual Conference will take place April 3-4, 2016 in Albany, NY. Exhibitor and Sponsorship opportunities are available!

For more information or to register, visit
YP! Seeking Western Regional Youth Partner
WSTRN in block lettering and Western written under it
POSITION: Western Regional Youth Partner - The Regional Youth Partners are peer leaders that connect local youth groups, coordinate regional youth advocacy efforts and provide technical assistance on youth-guided practices and peer support.

LOCATION: Applicant must reside in one of the 19 counties in the region. Preferred location Rochester.

STATUS: Full-time salary employee - $30,000+ commensurate on experience, plus benefits package

Must have personal life experience accessing children's mental health services and be willing to share this information publically. Additional experience with Disability, Foster Care, Addiction, or Juvenile Justice is beneficial.
Experience as a Youth Peer Advocate strongly preferred
Bachelor's or Associates Degree preferred but not required
Must have valid driver's license and reliable transportation
Must be able to travel

Independently motivated
Excellent coordination and organization skills
Experience with youth leadership and advocacy
Experience with peer support preferred
Excellent written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills
Demonstrated ability to engage with diverse groups
Demonstrated ability to speak with small and large groups of people
Experience with various software packages: Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Go-To, Google applications


Regional Representation
  • Establish contacts in the following counties assigned to the Western Region: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, Wyoming, Yates
  • Network Organized Youth Involvement, Empowerment and Peer support
  • Build and sustain a network of groups & councils to collaborate and share information
  • Coordinate at least one Regional Youth Forum per year to engage no less than 50 young people.
  • Host regional meetings of youth coordinators/advocates/facilitators

Directly Assist & Support Youth Groups and Councils
  •  Assist groups in starting up & sustaining
  • Attend youth groups & councils to see how they do things, learn from them and provide support and feedback if needed
  • Help to set up meetings with service providers & government officials for systems advocacy
  • Train and Educate Youth and Adults
  • Provide educational and empowerment activities related to YP!'s mission areas
  • Provide education on grass-roots organizing and sustainability strategies
  • Offer training to adult allies, government entities, agencies and organizations on youth engagement and youth guided services
  • Increase Youth Involvement & Advocacy
  • Identify youth leaders to participate in regional and local planning councils
  • Participate in the regional interagency technical assistance team
  • Organize regional youth input for statewide advocacy, as well as helping to increase youth involvement locally and regionally
Additional Obligations
  • Develop outreach materials
  • Input daily reporting
  • Produce a monthly report of job activities
  •  Attend statewide staff meetings
  • Collaborate with the Office of Mental Health Division of Children and Families regional coordinators, Families Together in New York State chapters, Parent Advisors and New York State Success
  • Perform other duties as assigned by the Executive Director of YOUTH POWER!
Applicants must send a resume with a formal cover letter in order to be considered. Emails and letters must indicate the tile of the position that the applicant is seeking.

Mail to:
Attn: Management Office
737 Madison Avenue, Albany NY 12208

Email to: [email protected]

Help us share this opportunity!  Click here for the PDF posting.
Amplify Your Region
All YP! Regional Teams Now Recruiting
Calling All Youth graphic
Interested in amplifying the youth movement in your region? Looking for an opportunity to meet and empower other young people like you?
New York State is large, both in size and population. YOUTH POWER! wants to make sure that youth from all over the state have the same access to opportunities to get involved! That's why we have five Regional Teams scattered throughout the state, one in each of the five regions: Long Island, NYC, Hudson River, Central, and Western!

Currently all YP! Regional Youth Partners are recruiting for their regional teams! 

What's a Regional Team?
A Regional Team is a group of YP! members that work together in a region. It is how YP! members can get directly involved in planning forums, events, outreach, and YP! activities in your area. Sometimes the teams meet in person. Other times they meet using Go-To Meeting which allows members to connect via computer, mobile app or phone.

While your Regional Youth Partners are there to help you along the way, YOU are in charge of your region's activities! YP! encourages youth involvement throughout the state, and this is a fantastic opportunity for any member who wants to have their voices heard! 

For more information, visit and contact your regional youth partner today!
You're Invited! Transition Age Youth Institute
Transition Age Youth Institute 2016 banner
Share expertise, peer strategies, and agency advances at the 2016 Transition Age Youth Institute on Thursday, September 22 and Friday, September 23 at The Saratoga Hilton in Saratoga Springs, NY.

The Transition Age Youth Institute offers professionals and peers working with school age youth the opportunity to enhance knowledge through interactive discussions in critical areas such as CTW & employment, inclusion, life-enrichment, literacy and managed care; reflect and deliberate on the challenges and rewards of innovative designs and youth service delivery models; and share, capture and take back experiences, strategies and informational tools that will successfully move transition services forward.

Deadline for Submissions: Friday, April 1, 2016.

Collaborators of the 2016 Transition Age Youth Institute:
New York State Rehabilitation Association, Mental Health Association in New York State, NYS Coalition for Children's Behavioral Health, Learning Disabilities Association of New York State, Inc., and YOUTH POWER!
#UYP16 Registration Opening This Month! 
University of YOUTH POWER 2016 Collage
University of YOUTH POWER!
Amplify Our Voices

June 11-14, 2016

University of YOUTH POWER! (UYP) is a for-youth-by-youth social justice conference that is modeled after a college experience. Young people ages 18 to 30 may register with a major of Peer Advocacy or Systems Advocacy. UYP will take place in Albany New York at the College of Saint Rose.  

UYP16 will include a variety of classes and activities to empower young people and Amplify Our Voices.

Stay tuned as we announce registration, scholarship opportunities, and more by visiting our website at
The Experts Conference is Coming to the US!
EVER Changing World
4th International Conference

June 8th and 9th, 2016
Institute of Community Research and Training
The College of Saint Rose | Abany, NY

Over the last several years the Institute for Community Research and Training at the College of Saint Rose has participated in a conference held in the Netherlands that focused on the recovery and reintegration of persons who live with mental health issues. Dubbed the Experts Conference this event highlighted programs and projects from the United States and Western Europe.
This year they are bringing the Experts Conference to the US. The conference focus has expanded to explore the role of the peer support movement in diverse countries as well as for those who come to the US and Europe as refugees and immigrants.  

For additional conference information or financial aid application, contact [email protected]
Systems Advocate Named Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities
Melanie Hecker, Youth Engagement Consultant
On February 15 2015, Systems Advocate Melanie Hecker was inducted into Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities. This elite group recognizes students who excel in campus activities and community service.  It is one of the highest honors a college student can receive. 

YP! Played a huge role in Melanie's induction and was mentioned among the student accomplishments at the induction ceremony held at Hudson Valley Community College.

To be eligible for Who's Who, you must be nominated by college faculty. Then your colleges nominating committee picks those who will be honored. Factors taken into consideration include GPA, participation in school activities, community service, and future leadership potential.

If you are a college student interested in being nominated or would like more information, visit
National Kidney Month - Spread Kidney Awareness by Elijah Fagan-Solis
Make a fist.  No, seriously make a fist and look at it.  It is amazing to think that your kidneys, which are about the size of the fist you just made, are responsible for filtering 200 liters of blood a day, help regulate your blood pressure, and direct red blood cell production.  

For many of us, we don't give our kidneys a second thought or a well-deserved checkup like we do our hearts, teeth, or eyes; although for 31 million Americans living with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), that is not the case.

infographic that states March is National Kidney Month, Reduce your kidney disease risk by controlling blood pressure and blood sugar, maintaining proper weight, quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and avoiding excessive use of pain medicine 
Chronic Kidney Disease is lasting damage to your kidneys that can get worse over time. If the damage is very bad, your kidneys may stop working like mine did, which is called kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease (ESRD).  If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to live.  One out of every two adults is at risk of developing CKD over the course of their lifetime.  I was one of the two...and now I have gotten involved to help advocate and spread the word about CKD so that others act on the message of prevention and don't have to go through dialysis or worry while waiting for a life-saving organ.

So what puts you at risk for kidney disease? Major risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, a family history of kidney failure and being age 60 or older.  What is tricky is that kidney disease often has no symptoms, and it can go undetected until very advanced just like in my case; it wasn't recognized until a simple urine test showed I had kidney disease. That is why I, other kidney organizations, as well as National Kidney Month focus on spreading the word about CKD and advocate for prevention; it is important to get tested because early detection and treatment can slow or prevent the progression of kidney disease.  An even better option would be to ensure you're living a lifestyle that prevents kidney disease altogether which would include knowing your risk factors, not smoking, drinking plenty of fluids, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight and much more.

World Kidney Day was March 10 and this year's theme focused on children and CKD and ways to prevent it.  With over 31 million Americans with CKD, there are 31 million reasons to get yourself and your loved ones tested, and join in efforts to raise CKD awareness on your workplace, on social media, and at events around your community.  To learn more facts about CKD and tips for prevention to share, go to
Get Involved with National Campaigns!
Photo of megaphone with different social media symbols coming out
Social media is a great tool to bring awareness in our advocacy efforts.
Together, we can amplify our voices!

Check out the campaigns below and team up to Speak Up and Speak Out! 

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
National Kidney Month
Women's History Month

Autism Awareness Month
Child Abuse Prevention Month
Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Want to get more involved in YP!'s Advocacy efforts?
 You can submit advocacy tips, articles, and more on topics that affect YOU! Team up with monthly, weekly, and national day campaigns and email submissions to [email protected]!

Did we miss a campaign? Let us know
SWAT's Youth Wellness Retreat
SWAT logo_ Spreading Wellness Around Town

Stepping up for Spring!
SWAT's Youth Wellness Retreat
March 30th  9:30 am - 3:00 pm
White House Lodge, Webster NY 14580
Ages 14-24

Recovering from the Winter Blues
Wellness Activities Outside
Nature Walk
Activities with Music and Team Building
Wellness Discussions about the Importance of Summer Coming and Getting Outside and Active!

Lunch, bottled water, and healthy snacks included.

Its Rochester... It could be muddy... It could be snowy... Dress well, we WILL be outside!

Contact Bianca Logan at 585-753-2638 or [email protected] for more information.

RSVP is Required! RSVP by March 23rd at
Calling All NYC Youth: Team Support for Youth Advocates & A New Youth Group!

Team Support for Youth Advocates 

The Peer Leader Support and Development (PLSD) meetings are monthly meetings open to any young adult working as youth advocate throughout the child-serving systems (Mental Health, Juvenile Justice,Education, and Child Welfare). The goal is to provide the youth advocates with the support and resources they need in order to continue to be the best advocates they can be. 

Join us every 1st Friday for more information contact Co Facilators: 
Diana Viglucci , NAMI [email protected]
Desiree Moore YOUTH POWER! [email protected]

New Youth Group: Youth on the Move 

Often times students decide to give up on school because they feel out of place or because they feel the supports given during school hours are not enough. Youth On the Move is a safe space for the students to discuss and receive additional supports in order to stick to the dream of graduating.  This Support group will be year round and will focus mainly on academic support.

Next Meeting March 17, 2016 
Meets bi-weekly @ 4:00pm 
Williamsburg Charter School 
198 Varet , Brookklyn NY11206 

For more information, contact the NYC Regional Youth Partner, Desiree Moore at [email protected]
The Citywide Oversight Youth Advisory Council Now Recruiting
image of young people in a circle with stick figure people and leadership written in chalk in the center
Citywide Oversight Council
Youth Advisory Council
Join us!

We are a group of young people committed to improving the lives of young people and their families. We are currently recruiting youth between the ages of 16-28 with a disability or lived experience in the foster care, juvenile justice, or mental health system. The Youth Advisory Council raises awareness of the perspectives, concerns and recommendations of young people who have had experience from one or more child serving system.

**Members are selected by application process for this council.

To join or for more information, contact YP!'s NYC Regional Youth Partner, Desiree Moore, at 347-880-2735 or [email protected] 
NYSILC's Youth Leadship Committee is Seeking Input
Are you a young person with a disability and/or experience with Independent Living Centers from across New York State? 

The NYS Independent Living Council's Youth Leadership committee is seeking your input to help them determine what advocacy priorities are important to young people. The feedback from this survey will help them launch one or more advocacy initiatives.

DDPC Seeking Members for Cultural Competency & Language Access Stakeholder Workgroup
The NYS Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC) is currently seeking members for a newly formed Cultural Competency and Language Access Stakeholder Workgroup. 

The primary goal of the Workgroup is for members to provide meaningful input on DDPC initiatives. For example, as part of their work over the next five years, they will be seeking input on how best to improve information about disability-related resources and services to English Language Learners (ELLs) in New York State.
DDPC is specifically seeking 10-15 individuals with developmental and other disabilities or family members from diverse racial, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, especially individuals and family members from the Latino, Asian, African-American, and other un- and underserved communities. Members will provide recommendations to the DDPC on how to embed cultural competency and language access into all DDPC work.
Participants of the Workgroup will be asked to attend a 1-day meeting, twice a year, and to potentially engage in conference calls between meetings as needed.
The DDPC will provide reimbursement for travel and accommodations at the meetings.  Free language translation services will also be provided upon request.
If you would like more information about the Workgroup or if you are aware of individuals and family members who would be interested in participating, please have them contact Jacqueline Hayes; ([email protected])  

Note: They are seeking responses to this invitation by March 16th, 2016 to support initiating the Workgroup and related activities.
Reflections on Legislative Awareness Day 
By Melanie Hecker
Melanie Hecker speaking at the 2016 LAD
Families Together in NYS recently hosted their annual Legislative Awareness Day. It is important to be informed of the issues that affect our state systems and hear from the people most affected by these issues. Whether it relates to mental health, addiction, education, foster care, juvenile justice, or any other state system, one needs to know what is going on. It is also important to relay to legislators how you feel about certain issues and why they should care and take action. This is what Legislative Awareness Day is about. People from all over the state come to the Empire State Plaza Convention Center to meet, listen to speakers, and talk with legislators.

This day is one I always look forward to. It is amazing to see families, advocates, youth and lawmakers come together to discuss matters of importance to the state systems that serve so many people. This year's event was bigger and better than ever!

My day started with a legislator visit at Senator Marcellino's office. The topic was Multiple Pathways to a High School Diploma. We met with a staff person of the senator and told him all of the reasons why this issue is so important. There are a lot of diverse students in our education system, but only one way to obtain a high school diploma: the five Regent's exams. The Multiple Pathways to a Diploma Campaign seeks to establish alternatives to the Regents exams such as a portfolio assessment and a career and technical education pathway. We shared with Marcellino's staff the experiences students have had with the current systems and the changes that can be made for improvement. It is very empowering to be able to talk to people with the ability to help make the change you want to see happen. In addition to the Multiple Pathways to a Diploma visits, there were also legislative visits going on about Raise the Age and the heroin crisis.

After the visits came the main program. One of the focuses of this year's speakers was addiction. Addiction affects a large number of people to the point of being an epidemic. While some speakers discussed their loved ones overcoming their addictions, others weren't so lucky and instead spoke on losing their child to addiction. It is hard to imagine having to lose a loved one due to a drug overdose, but it is a harsh reality we have to fight. No matter what to tone of the addiction talk, a message was sent that it is a problem that needs to be addressed. It will take a team effort all across the state to battle addiction and we all have to do our part.

Another common subject was Raise the Age. New York is currently one of only two states that puts 16 and 17 year olds on trial as adults. Because the brains of 16 and 17 year old are still developing, many believe the age should be raised to 18. Speakers spoke on how outcomes would improve if this change were to be made. People have stated that 16 and 17 year olds in adult prisons are more likely to commit crimes again and that being in an adult prison can damage their mental health. We are very close to making Raise the Age a reality.
This year I had the honor of presenting on the topic of Multiple Pathways to a Diploma. With enthusiasm I informed the audience of how the only available graduation pathway offered right now isn't always compatible with student's learning styles. I spoke of the available great alternatives such as a portfolio assessment or a career and technical pathway. It was empowering to be able to express the needs our state's youth to a huge audience, especially one where legislators were present. 

To learn more about Raise the Age, visit

To learn more about Multiple Pathways to a Diploma, click here.
Comeback TV Presents: "What is Peer Mentoring?"

Comeback TV is excited to bring you their 8th episode! Host Gustavo Payano talks to young adults about peer mentors.
What is Peer Mentoring?
What is Peer Mentoring?
Youth United 4 Change: #YU4Change
Youth United For Change is a short video showcasing common challenges faced by culturally diverse youth in their journey towards wellness recovery.  They have developed this companion toolkit to help you plan a video talk circle event. These tools can support individuals, agencies, youth advocates, and partners from all cultural backgrounds who seek to promote youth wellness and leadership. In this documentary they highlight key resources, programs, and strategies that have successfully worked to support the wellness journey of youth. Youth United For Change was created because theybelieve that there is no better time than the present to empower our young leaders.

Youth United 4 Change
Youth United 4 Change
People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project
Photo collage of people of color holding signs about mental illness and their experience

The People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project started by Dior Vargas in September 2014 is a response to the invisibility of people of color in media representations of mental illness. Mental illness does not discriminate. Currently, there are over 100 submissions with people all around the US, Canada, and the UK. Call for submissions is ongoing. Submit your photo today! 

Visit for more information.
Governer Cuomo Announces $2.4 Million in Funding to Support Employment of Individuals with Disabilities
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that $2.4 million has been distributed to 100 organizations that provide employment services to individuals with disabilities via the New York State Employment Services System. 

This funding is part of the Governor's Employment First Initiative to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

This funding continues New York's legacy of inclusiveness by helping provide the necessary employment services to individuals with disabilities, Governor Cuomo said. This action is yet another example of our commitment to expanding opportunity to all New Yorkers.

Governor Cuomo's Employment First Initiative, created through Executive Order 136, is tasked with establishing policies and practices for government, community agencies and advocacy organizations to increase the employment rate of New Yorkers with disabilities, decrease the poverty rate of New Yorkers with disabilities; and encourage businesses to establish formal policies to hire people with disabilities. 
Self-Assessment for an Abuse Free Environment
To support abuse prevention efforts, the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs in collaboration with the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, Office of Mental Health, Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Office of Children and Family Services, and the State Education Department has developed a Self-Assessment for an Abuse Free Environment.  

These self-assessments can be found on the Justice Center Website at
This tool will help service providers think in terms of an abuse-free environment, to self-evaluate program(s) for risk of abuse or neglect, and to provide resources to mitigate the identified areas of risk. The self-assessment is adapted from the Nursing Home Abuse Risk Profile and Checklist developed by the National Association of States United on Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD) for the U.S. Administration on Aging.

This self-assessment is an optional tool and will not be audited by ANY state agency, including the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, or other surveyors.
ILC Family Resource Center Hiring Youth Advocates
What is a Youth Advocate? A young person who has come to a successful place in their own recovery and ready to help another young person to the same place and beyond. 
Become an Advocate Today. 

ICL Family Resouce Center 
The ICL is looking for two part-time Youth Advocates or one Full time. 


  1. Develop, implement and lead youth support groups.
  2. Provide assistance and support to children in accessing services (schools, hospitals, child welfare, mental health agencies, entitlements, etc.)
  3. Collaborate with outside providers, networks and other related systems on behalf of youth served.
  4. Represent ICL at relevant government and provider meetings, as required.
  5. Maintain documentation that is compliant with all governmental and agency standards and procedures.
  6. Other job-related responsibilities as assigned.
  1. Ability to work with consumers/residents, families and staff in a caring and respectful manner, and with due understanding of and consideration for cultural differences.
  2. Ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing with staff, consumers/residents, families and the public.
  3. Ability to prepare accurate and timely documentation, reports and other written material as assigned.
  4. Ability to secure the cooperation of and work effectively with others.
  5. Ability to work independently, and to conform to all applicable safety and accountability measures.
  6. Ability to plan and organize information, tasks and projects.

No minimum education required. Past recipient of child mental health services. Appreciation of the demands and pressure that impinge on SED children and their family. Knowledge of the benefits and challenges of being a mental health consumer.

For more information and to apply online: 
YP!'s 4th Annual Foster Care and Mental Health Celebration
purple and green awareness ribbons
Save the Date!
YOUTH POWER!'s 4th Annual Foster Care and Mental Health Awareness Celebration

May 24th, 2016  11am-2pm
Empire State Plaza, Meeting Rooms 2-4

For more information, please contact [email protected] 
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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