YOUTH POWER nothing about us without us YP!

In this eNews
Young Leaders Amplify Youth Voice at #UYP16

UYP16 Photo Collage
This year's University of YOUTH POWER! was bigger and better than ever! Students improved knowledge, gained confidence and support, and amplified their drive to continue forward in Peer and Systems Advocacy. These young leaders from across New York are now back in their communities and ready to Lead On!

The 2016 University of YOUTH POWER! brought together over 75 young leaders across New York State to build skills and expand their professional networks. This premiere youth peer leadership conference featured classes such as Trauma-Informed Peer Support, Leading an Effective Team, The Art and Science of Public Speaking, Knowing Your Rights in Foster Care, Advocating for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma, Youth Addiction Recovery, and more!  These classes gave young leaders the opportunity to learn among their peers, connect with professors in and out of the classroom, and learn the tools they need as this profession continues to grow and expand.

This year also featured the 9th Annual Leaders' Dinner which gave students the opportunity to meet with government leaders and discuss what successes and challenges they have identified in systems serving youth and young adults. Leaders from the Council on Children and Families, the Division of Criminal Justice Services, Columbia Secure Center for Girls, the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, The Office of Children and Family Services, the Office of Mental Health, The Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities, and the Justice Center attended the dinner. Young leaders attending the event truly felt heard and some even stayed late to continue the conversation after dinner!

From the Leaders' Dinner to classes and activities such as Zumba, this leadership conference was a great success.

What Young Leaders have to say about the 2016 University of YOUTH POWER!: 

"It showed me the different mindsets of fellow advocates as well as issues that are not particularly prominent in my field."

"[UYP16] Helped [me] gain knowledge and experience."

"It made me more aware of how to advocate fairly and with more compassion with others."

 "I learned that there are much more people who share the same vision as I do."

"Understanding the history of the youth movement helped me see how far the youth movement has come and how far we have to go. The impact of this knowledge helps to keep me motivated and adds to my passion."

With feedback and inspiring ideas to build #UYP17, YOUTH POWER! is keeping the momentum going and beginning the planning of the next year's premiere youth peer leadership conference.

Follow #UYP16 and #UYP17 to stay connected and learn more about the UYP experience. 
Introducing the New Western Regional Youth Partner!
Photo of Azaria Wittekind holding the hope board
Hello! My name is Azaria Wittekind and I am happy to say that I am the new Western Regional Youth Partner with YOUTH POWER!.
I am excited to be a part of the YP! team and familiarize myself with all of the Western region including all of YP!'s members and allies. 

I have been a mentor and advocate for many years stemming from my experience growing up in the foster care system and the care and support I received there. I was in and out of foster care from the age of 13 and aged out at 21 and have battled with multiple mental health diagnosis. I was blessed with love and support from caring adults throughout my life who have supported me in finding my voice, drive, and achieving personal successes. 

I have a passion for learning what works and supporting others to find their voices. I believe there is great power in having support, feeling loved, and finding ones voice. I'm excited to be a part of YP! and cannot wait to meet and connect with young people and their allies, who are truly looking to and have the power to advocate and create positive changes across systems.
WSTRN in block lettering and Western written under it

Interested in getting involved or joining the Western Regional Team? Contact Azaria at 
or by phone at 585-314-2452.
Help Change the FACE of Foster Care
FACE logo

Fostering Advocacy Change and Empowerment (FACE)  is a foster youth-led and adult-supported project, working to change the face of foster care in New York. Comprised of some of this generation's most energetic and passionate youth advocates, FACE is an inviting, enthusiastic, familial, safe platform to be heard, to advocate, and stay empowered for every foster youth in New York State. FACE is a part of the YOUTH POWER! Network.
Currently recruiting new members!
Members are youth/young adults with any experience in foster care (including juvenile justice) who are ready to:
  • Be a part of YOUTH POWER! and the youth movement aiming to promote youth voice and provide and advocacy platform for system involved youth
  • Attend regional meeting to discuss what matters most to you in care and foster care alumni
  • Lead campaigns and advocacy effots
  • Attend local, county, and statewide meeting representing youth voice
  • Participate in fun meetings and training opportunities with other FACE members
For more information, contact or find us on
YP! Webinar Available 
Resilience Unleashed: Supporting Youth Guided Practice 
CTAC logo
YOUTH POWER! recently partnered with the Community Technical Assistance Center for Resilience Unleashed: Supporting Youth Guided Practice. This webinar explores the value of meaningful youth involvement and how youth guided practice provides supports and services that promote the development of knowledge, skills, confidence, self-efficacy, and pride.

Organizations play a pivotal role in the success of implementing and supporting youth guided practice. To learn more about strategies for engaging, supporting and sustaining youth partners, click here to view the recording and slides  and stay tuned for future webinars to learn more!
#CripTheVote This Election Year
This is what the country's largest minority wants you to know this election. #CripTheVote

#CripTheVote This Election Year
Second Annual Disability Pride Parade
2016 Disability Pride Parade Poster

DATE OF PARADE: July 10th, 10am

For more information, visit
SWAT Youth Council's Summer Youth Wellness Retreat
SWAT logo
SWAT (Spreading Wellness Around Town)
is dedicated to building individual and community wellness. Through seasonal wellness retreats, youth are exposed to new, healthy experiences in a safe and welcoming environment. Within this environment, they talk openly about opportunities to bring wellness into their lives and ways to release the judgments and beliefs that may limit them.

We can all be stigma busters! It's not about illness but about the way we choose to live our lives and take care of ourselves, and most importantly knowing that we all matter and deserve wellness.  

Summer Youth Wellness Retreat
July 20th, 2016 | 9:30AM - 3:30PM
Ages 14-24

The summer event will include...
  • Wellness Discussion
    • What does wellness mean to you? (Mind, body, spirit)
    • How can you improve your own wellness planning?
  • Physical Activity (ie; Yoga, Karate)
  • Lunch
  • Mindful Nature Walk
  • Team Building
    • Creating a project together
    • Outdoor activities
RSVP Required!

Questions? Contact Bianca Logan at or by phone at 585-753-2638
ADA Legislative Breakfast
Have breakfast with your elected officials and discuss your disability issues! 
This is a FREE event in celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act!

When:  July 7, 2016 from 8am-10am
Where:  Center for Disability Rights, 497 State Street, Rochester, NY 14608
Topics:  Accessible, affordable, integrated housing; ADA compliance; Disability Integration Act
Contact: CDR at 585-546-7510 or

Please come prepared with your questions. Sign Language Interpreters provided.
Want to make a difference? Join the Action Workgroup!
Action Alert

Interested in learning more about the issues important to young people, giving input in our state systems, building your resume, and improving the systems for all?
Join the Action Workgroup!

Action carries out YOUTH POWER!'s most important priority items. They select goals from the Priority Agenda to develop campaigns around and make positive change. Currently, they are working on establishing  Multiple Pathways to a High School Diploma to maximize opportunities for diverse learners and ensure every student has the diploma they need and deserve to pursue career and higher education.

Learn more about Multiple Pathways to a Diploma by clicking here.

Action is a statewide workgroup and any YP! member from any area of the state can join. Not yet a member? Fill out a membership form today!  This group meets over conference call. The next meeting is Thursday, June 30 at 7:00 PM

To join or for more information, contact Melanie Hecker at or 518-432-0333 ex 14. 
Direct Connect: National Learning Community for Young Leaders
Youth M.O.V.E. National logo
Calling all Youth Leaders -- Are you leading youth engagement efforts in a Systems of Care community or a Youth M.O.V.E. Chapter? Are you a youth or young adult who wants to develop professional skills while also connecting with peers who are using their lived experiences to make systems change? Look no further! 

The Direct Connect National Learning Community for Young Leaders is a virtual forum for youth and young adults to: develop professional skill sets via virtual training opportunities connect as a community to share and gather new resources unite with other youth advocates and professional peers from across the country.  

Don't miss your opportunity to register for Youth M.O.V.E. National's highly interactive Direct Connect National Learning Community for Young Leaders! We look forward to connecting with you and supporting you in developing skills and relationships that will help you in your work to transform the behavioral health system and expand Systems of Care.

The next call will be on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 from 1:30PM-3:00PM.
For more information or to register, click here.
Justice Center Code of Conduct Award
The Justice Center is seeking nominations for its first Code of Conduct Recognition Award to recognize the dedicated men and women who provide direct care to people with special needs throughout New York State. 

Deadline for submission is Friday, July 22. The winners will be selected in September and will be invited to a recognition lunch with the Justice Center Advisory Council on September 29. After the recognition lunch, award winners will have an opportunity to meet with New York State policy makers at the Capitol.

More information about the award can be found on the Justice Center's website at
Groups Sue New York Over Inaccessible Online Voter Registration for People With Disabilities
The American Civil Liberties Union and Disability Rights Advocates  today  sued the New York State Board of Elections and Department of Motor Vehicles over online voter registration that is inaccessible to people with disabilities.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind, the Center for the Independence of the Disabled, and individual plaintiffs who are blind. States are required by law to meet accessibility and confidentiality standards when providing services such as online voter registration, but New York is failing to comply, the complaint charges.

"Online voter registration is key to ensuring access to the ballot for people with disabilities. Yet in New York, it's not just difficult for hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities to register online, it's virtually impossible," said ACLU attorney Susan Mizner. "We've told the state where the worst barriers are. It can easily fix the problems, but has refused to do so."

The lawsuit cites violations of the American with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. It seeks immediate adjustments to ensure the websites are legally compliant; the creation of Board of Elections policies that ensure accessibility and provide a clear path of accountability; and the development of policies and procedures to ensure the sites remain accessible.
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
Help Proclaim September as "Kinship Care Month!"
National kinship alliance for children_ NYS kinship navigator_ and CWLA logos
Across the nation, approximately 2.7 million grandparents and 1.4 million other relatives are caring for children. This non-parent caregiving is called "kinship care".
Kinship families are a national resource, providing homes for over 6 million children, saving over $4 billion annually in child welfare costs. Yet the public, the media, and our federal and state governments do little to acknowledge their service.
To date,  New York, Virginia, South Dakota, Vermont, Georgia, Ohio, New Jersey, Arizona,  and the  U. S. Senate  have issued resolutions declaring September as Kinship Care Month. We are asking you to help gain more support for all kinship families.
This June, we are asking you to help us persuade President Obama to issue a
Presidential Proclamation Declaring September as Kinship Care Month.

What can you do to help?
*Calls to the White House comment line (may be put on hold for some time; they do not take names): 202-456-1111
*Emails to White House, website will as you to fill out your contact info, including your name; contact the President at

Sample Message:
"I urge the President to proclaim September as Kinship Care Month. Grandparents and other relatives deserve national recognition and respect. A presidential proclamation will help us raise awareness and take action in our home communities."

For more information, click here
YOUTH IN POWER: Summer Leadership Camp
Photo of campers at the Theater Hall

Friday, August 19th-Sunday, August 21st, 2016
In Albany County, Feura Bush, NY


YOUTH IN POWER provides a welcoming, supportive, safe, & fun summer camp experience for young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, questioning, ace (LGBTQA) or as allies. The weekend is jam-packed with a variety of workshops, social activities, & projects that focus on empowerment through social justice. There are also "traditional" camp activities including arts & crafts, boating, & lawn games in conjunction with youth-driven programming.

YOUTH IN POWER offers various workshops and activities that will enhance each camper's experience including:
  • Expressive arts, theater, crafts, outdoor sketching, journal writing.
  • Wellness activities such as yoga, meditation, dance, volleyball, basketball, and hiking
  • Workshops such as LGBTQA history, healthy relationships, advocating for safer schools, using social media, knowing your rights, grassroots organizing, talking about gender identity and gender expression, pop culture, and more!
  • Workshops will be led by youth, experienced Advisor Counselors (ACs), and outside guest speakers from the Capital Region community.
For more information or to register, 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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