YOUTH POWER nothing about us without us YP!

In this eNews
Amplifying Our Voices with the 2016 YP! Priority Agenda
The YP! Board has Approved the 2016 Priority Agenda!

In 2015, YP! held regional youth forums and focus groups throughout the state to gain insight into the issues of importance to young people with disabilities and/or involvement in systems such as: Foster Care, Addiction Treatment, Mental Health, Juvenile Justice, and Special Education. YP! also conducted surveys and focus groups to dig deeper into frequently raised issues.

This agenda represents the major issues YP! supports and regularly works to address. Not all of the items on the agenda are legislative. A good majority of the work YP! does to bring youth voice to government is through committees and regular meetings with government employees.

Thank you to all of our members who came to our events, answered surveys, and spoke-out! We heard you and we are ready to amplify your voices.

Alternative formats are available on  our website.
YP! Takes on a New FACE!
FACE logo
YP! has always prided itself on amplifying the voice of any youth that has been labeled and is seeking change. Our network is made up of youth that have received special education services, mental health services, substance abuse services, foster care services, and more. We look for opportunities to start initiatives or partner with others on issues that reflect the heart of youth in our membership and we are excited to announce our newest foster care initiative, FACE.

Fostering Advocacy Change and Empowerment, also known a FACE was founded in 2014, by 6 former youth in foster care in NYC. The mission of FACE is to empower youth in foster care to advocate for themselves and change legislation that directly affects their lives, so that youth can receive the support needed to become healthy and vibrant adults. The vision of FACE is to provide every New York State foster youth with a safe platform to be heard, to advocate, and stay empowered.

Since 2014, the Redlich Horwitz Foundation has been funding FACE and will continue to do so under this new partnership with YP!. Once a local NYC initiative, YP! with the help of the Redlich Horwitz Foundation, will be helping FACE shift into a new statewide gear. Be on the lookout for groups, events and opportunities near you! FACE has been privileged to have the support of the Redlich Horwitz Foundation thus far. YP! is extremely excited about partnering with the Redlich Horwitz Foundation and looks to a great future for FACE. 

FACE founding member Hasan Williams expresses his excitement about this collaboration. He states, "FACE and I are really excited to join forces with YP! We are eager to integrate, share, and expand our voices to reach more youth throughout NY State in our journey to bettering outcomes for youth".

YP! is especially excited about this opportunity to empower youth in foster care to be active citizens, aware of government operations, their rights and the ability to use their voices to influence policies, practices, regulation and law. 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. 
Please follow visit our website in the future for more information on FACE.

Follow FACE on Facebook at
The Journey Continues for Carrie Relf
Carrie Relf and Stephanie Orlando
By Carrie Relf
One of my favorite quotes is "every journey begins with a single a step". The best part about that saying is that although the journey begins with one step, many more steps are necessary for the journey to continue. On November 13, 2012, my journey began here at YOUTH POWER! And on February 26th, 2016 my journey here will come to an end and my next step will be taken. I will be continuing my career as a Child Protective Services Caseworker for the Rensselaer County Department of Social Services. I am excited for my continued growth and professional development as I embark on the new!

This is very bittersweet for me. I have built so many great relationships at YP!. YP! is and always will be a part of my family. I will never forget the experiences I have had as an employee here. From the yearlong process it took to get hired (insider J), to the creation of VOYA (Rensselaer County's Youth Advisory Council, and through the birth of many great initiatives such as our Foster Care and Children's Mental Health Awareness Celebration and our University of YOUTH POWER!. I have learned so much from my peers and those that I have had the opportunity to work with.
Carrie having fun at UYP15 Orientation
Don't Miss Out! FTNYS Legislative Awareness Day
Tuesday, February 9, 2016  
12:30 - 3:30pm

Registration and Scheduled Legislator Visits 10am-12pm

Are you a young person or a family member of a child or  youth facing:
  • Mental health challenges?
  • Addiction? 
  • Developmental challenges? 
  • Behavioral issues in schools? 
  • The adult or juvenile justice system? 
  • The child welfare system? 
No matter what door you enter, you are not alone.

Join hundre ds  of family members, youth, advocates and state leaders from across the state for the Families Together in New York State Legislative Awareness Day and Luncheon, a free event, on  Tuesday, February 9, 2016  at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Albany, New York.  All are invited to meet with legislators, network with other families & youth, and share your valuable voice, experience and ideas!

Questions? Contact Brad Hansen at 518.432.0333 x28  or .
ASAN-NYS Day of Mourning Vigil in Troy
On March 1st, many in the disability community observe the Disability Day of Mourning. 

On this day, people remember those with disabilities who were killed by their own families or caregivers. Often the news media portrays the killing of disabled people by family members as justifiable, due to the added burden that caring for a disabled person is presumed to bring. For the last five years, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, ADAPT, Not Dead Yet, the National Council on Independent Living, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, and other disability rights organizations have co-sponsored or held vigils across the nation to mourn those whom we've lost, to raise awareness about these tragedies, and to demand justice and equal protection under the law for people with disabilities.
If you would like to attend the vigil to remember these individuals, see the vigil info below:

6:00 PM, March 1st 2016
Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley
15-17 3rd Street Troy New York

To attend or for more detail please contact Melanie Hecker at
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Thunderclap
Red banner with hearts that says Love _ Respect. This February_ Start talking about healthy relationships. Teen dating Violence awareness month.
via and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dating Violence can happen to teens in a romantic or sexual relationship anytime, anywhere. But it doesn't have to happen at all. A healthy relationship is built on respect and free of violence.

Teen dating violence is the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence in a dating relationship, including stalking. It happens in person and electronically with current or former partners. This problem is widespread, with serious effects, though many teens don't report it because they're afraid to tell friends and family.

We're Stopping Dating Violence
Communicating, managing uncomfortable emotions like anger and jealousy, and treating others with respect keeps relationships healthy and nonviolent.
Dating violence is preventable when teens, families, organizations, and communities come together and implement effective prevention efforts. You can help by spreading this message!

Encourage respectful, healthy relationships for Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month in February! Sign up for the #TeenDVMonth Thunderclap  to share the message with your colleagues and friends.

On  February 12 at 12:00 p.m. EDT, all who sign up for the Thunderclap will automatically have this one-time message posted to their Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr account:
"Healthy relationships are violence free! Encourage respect early. #VetoViolence #TeenDVMonth"

Your voice will join the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), leaders, organizations, violence prevention professionals, and people who empowering youth to make relationships healthy!
The CDC's  VetoViolence initiative provides free and innovative online trainings and interactive resources designed to stop violence before it starts.

Click here for more information or to sign up.

To learn more about Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, visit
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!

Click on the campaigns below for more information on how you can team up to Speak Up and Speak Out! 



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 !

Did we miss a campaign or resource above? Let us know
YP! is Hiring - Assistant Director
YP! is currently seeking an Assistant Director.  The Assistant Director will assist the YOUTH POWER! Director and will have both internal and external facing responsibilities. The Assistant Director will work closely with the Director to chart a strategic response to an increasing demand for the organization's services and to ensure quality and sustainability of all viable services.

Title: Assistant Director
Office Location:  Albany, New York
Salary:  Low 40s
  • As a peer-led network, firsthand experience as a young person with a disability or experience in a state system such as mental health or foster care is preferred
  • 5+ years experience with non-profit organizations
  • Very proficient in Word, Excel and Power Point
  • Strong team leadership and collaboration abilities
  • Excellent professional writing and editing skills
  • Highly organized
  • Bachelors Degree preferred
Application Process:
Applicants must send a resume with a formal cover letter in order to be considered. The letter should indicate the tile of the position that the applicant is seeking.

Don't Miss Out! The #UYP16 Call for Professors are due 2/12
black banner that reads_ University of YOUTH POWER__ Amplify Our Voices_ Call for professors and Activity Leaders_ Applications due February 12 2016_ visit www.youthpowerny.org_uyp_ to apply. _UYP16
UYP16: Amplify Our Voices
June 11-14, 2016 
University of YOUTH POWER!   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.  

With the expanding youth peer services, UYP16 will include a variety of classes and activities to empower young people and Amplify Our Voices.

We are seeking presentations on topics ranging from public speaking and building a professional network to understanding young people's rights and artivism (See professor form for a full list of topics)

For more information or to apply, visit
FTNYS Annual Conference:
Registration is Open and the Call for Presentions are Due!
FTNYS Conference Save the Date Card_ Building strong roots for success_ embracing change together. Sunday april 3 2016 - Monday April 4 2016_ visit for more information

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!

This  year's conference has something for everyone! FTNYS is excited to present:

The Family & Advocate Track:  This is a great track for parents, caregivers, educators, staff and peer 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.
The Partner Track: Designed for adults and youth to unite and address topics that are of interest to both adults and youth to make plans to work to improve the system and to connect with each other

The Youth Track: Planned and delivered by the YOUTH POWER! network, this track offers 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 Annual Conference gives attendees of all ages the chance to meet  newpeople, find support, talk to others who understand and make lifelong friendships.

Please Note:There will be no child care or programming for children under the age of 12.  Youth ages 12 and up who would like to attend the conference are invited to register for the Youth Track of the conference. 

Call for presentations are due Friday, February 12th! Scholarships for youth and family members are also available.

For more information or to register/apply, visit
A Big Step in the Right Direction for Foster Parenting 
By: Carrie Relf 
Photo of Carrie Relf speaking at an event
My husband and I recently made the decision to become certified foster parents. As many may know, I was a former youth in care. My experiences have helped mold me into the person I am today. My husband and I completed our GPSII/MAPP classes in November 2015 and earned our certification in December 2015.

Recently we received notification of a mandatory foster parent training on the Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standard. I had never heard of it. However, for the foster care system it is A BIG STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.

The reasonable and prudent parenting standard gives foster parents the power to make parental choices for youth in care that are considered normative experiences and are age and developmentally appropriate. In other words, foster parents can decide whether or not a youth in care can go on a school field trip, or hang out with friends, without permission from the custodial county or birth family.

When I look back at my experience in foster care, there were simply many things I could not do because I was in foster care. I could not spend the night at a friend's house, or have a cell phone because I was in care. Thanks to the standard, young people all over will be able to experience a little more normalcy than I did. As a former youth in care, I am extremely hopeful that this will make the foster care experience better for youth and minimize the need to run away or sign out of care prematurely. As a foster parent, I am excited that the law finds us competent and trusts us to makes these decisions for the youth in our care as we would our own biological children.

Now Recruiting! YP!'s Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program
RAMP logo
YOUTH POWER!'s Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) is now recruiting for youth enrollment and peer mentors in the Albany and Ravena locations!

RAMP is a career-focused mentoring program that uses group, peer and individualized mentoring to help youth learn about job options, how to set goals for themselves, and how to achieve those goals with steps anchored in their daily lives to successfully transition to post-secondary education, employment, and independent living.

To learn more, view the video below or and contact Elijah Fagan-Solis, Mentoring Coordinator, at or 518-432-0333 ext. 19.

RAMP Program Overview
RAMP Program Overview
Kitchen Table Toolkit: Combat Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse
The Kitchen Table Toolkit  was developed to assist parents, teachers, counselors and the community with guidance on how to initiate conversations about heroin and opioid abuse.  The information in the toolkit may also be applicable for alcohol and other drugs.  Videos and guidance documents were developed to assist with a community forum or a personal conversation.   
Talking with the Community
Talking with the Community
Talking with Young People
Talking with Young People

NCWD/Youth Releases Transition Truths: An Overview of Transition Sysmtems
NCWD_Youth Logo
via Intersection: Navigating the Road to Work, Jan 2016

Transition Truths  is an online tool that describes systems that may affect youth with and without disabilities as they transition from youth to adulthood. Youth can use this tool with youth service professionals and other caring adults to learn about their rights within these systems, plan for their transition, and identify areas where change is needed within their communities. Youth service professionals can also use this tool in working with youth and in identifying ways to connect youth to additional supports.

TeenDrive365 Video Challenge

The 2015-2016 TeenDrive365 Video Challenge has begun!

Learning to drive is one of the coolest times for a teen. But facts have shown it can be extremely dangerous. You have the power to inspire your fellow teens, maybe better than a teacher or a parent can, because you know what messages will be the most powerful. Create a 30-60 second video for your fellow teen drivers that highlights the importance of safe teen driving and you could win $15,000, or one of 14 other prizes!

Contest ends March 7, 2016

Check out the prizes:
  • 1st Place: $15,000 and the chance to work with a Discovery film crew to reshoot your video into a TV-ready PSA!
  • 2nd Place: $10,000 and a behind-the-scenes trip to a Velocity show taping
  • 3rd Place: $7,500
  • People's Choice: $5,000 and a behind-the-scenes trip a Velocity show taping
  • 4th Place - 10th Place: $2,500
  • Four Regional Winners: $1,000
Save the Date! YP!'s 4th Annual Foster Care and Mental Health Awareness 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 
Save the Date! Moving Forward in Children's Mental Health 22nd Annual Symposium
Moving Forward in Children's Mental Health
22nd Annual Symposium

Melville Marriot
1350 Old Walt Whitman Road
Melville, New York 11747
Families of children with SED are FREE!!!
Professionals $45
Please note that brochures will be available at the end of February

This year's symposium will cover topics in various systems, including but not limited to: NYS Office of Mental Health, The Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), New York State Education Department, Probation Department, Mental Health Association, Families Together in NYS, Inc., Regional Technical Assistance Team (RTAT), Police & Hospital Topics, Drug and Alcohol, Pederson Krag WAVE, YOUTH POWER!, Status on, Behavioral Health Homes and Medicaid Redesign  

For more information contact Cheryl Williams at 631-761-3181 or
Jeanne McGough at 631-761-2334
P3 Presents:
Strike for a Cure Bowl-A-Thon
Join the Peculiar People Project (P3) this Saturday, February 13th at 2pm for the 

Strike for a Cure Bowl-A-Thon.

Proceeds to benefit the American Cancer Society - Relay for Life!

Prizes ~ T-Shirts for Sale ~ and More!!

Uncle Sam Lanes
600 Fulton Street, Troy, NY 12180
$10 for students     $12 for non-students

For more information, contact Arianna at 518-406-8582 or

Instagram: PThreeProject
Job Opportunity: Transitional Peer Specialist for Young Adults
The WNY Independent Living Center in Buffalo, NY is seeking applications for a Transitional Peer Specialist for Young Adults. 

Assisting youth (ages 12-22) with co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness, receiving treatment with Renaissance Addiction Services, Inc (RASI), in learning the skills, community resources and creating a personalized plan to assist in avoiding re-institutionalization, support in achieving continued sobriety, and assistance in successful transition from an institutional setting into the community, by providing Peer Services up graduation from the program.

To view the full job details, click here.
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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