KYEA: Educating, mentoring, and supporting youth with disabilities in KS

Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy Newsletter
Issue #48
May 2019
in this issue
:: From Carrie's Perspective
:: KYEA Staff on the Road for Pre-ETS Workshops
:: Spotlight On: Deseray Rodney
:: Employment Success: Caprice Davis
:: Alumni Accomplishment: Ben Berlin
:: Question of the Month
:: State and National Opportunities
:: KYEA News
:: Completing My First Year of College
:: Even More Accomplishments!
:: Community Power: KDHE Division for Special Healthcare Needs
:: CIL Calendar

Two girls jump in the air in celebration as a beautiful sunset is behind them
ACCOMPLISHMENTS! That is what this entire newsletter is focused on this month. It is that time of year where youth everywhere are reflecting on the past, looking forward to the future (including summer!), and celebrating various accomplishments. So, we thought, what better month to celebrate with you all! This newsletter is completely full of story after story showcasing the achievements of youth with disabilities in our state. Read on and be encouraged to reach your own goals!

Summer may be right around the corner, but, as many of you know, summer does not mean slowing down for the KYEA team. This is our busy season! Well, let's face it... every season is busy season for us :). We are just coming off of back to back trips in the last few months to host Pre-ETS Empower Me! workshops in different cities. And now, we are deep in planning for our 19th annual Kansas Youth Leadership Forum. Wild how time flies! We have also changed the dates for Faces of Change and are still recruiting team members. Read all about this, and more, below!

This is the time of year where we really can use community support, so if you'd like to help, let us know! From donations for backpack goodies to securing transportation in different areas for KSYLF delegates, from financial donations to help setting up for our Mentor Luncheon... there are so many ways to help. Just reach out, and we'll find a spot for you!

Congrats to all of the graduates out there and those of you who are moving into a new phase of your life. KYEA is behind you always. If you have something exciting that you'd like to share, call us up or message us! There is never a wrong day to celebrate accomplishments! Happy summer everyone!

- Carrie Greenwood, Program Coordinator 
From Carrie's Perspective Carrie Greenwood
by Carrie Greenwood, Program Coordinator

I get really excited to talk about accomplishments. Not only do I like celebrating and reflecting on my own, but I also LOVE hearing about other people's accomplishments. There is something awesome about the way that someone's face changes when they begin to talk about things that they have achieved. It is a quiet pride that comes over them. I love seeing that, and, frankly, I love feeling it inside myself as well. As I tell many people, I've always been a goal setter. I truly do believe that we all can accomplish anything that we put our mind to. As I reflect on my life thus far, I am proud of the things that I have accomplished. I have also learned a lot through my efforts to achieve different things:

1. You can't accomplish something unless you have a vision for the goal. Set goals and work to achieve them. Think about what you want. Maybe even write it down. Either way, just pick something to work toward. Once you start doing that, you will begin to feel more and more accomplished.

2. Achievement is not always easy. Frankly, trying to accomplish things can be downright hard sometimes. Does that mean it's not doable? Absolutely not! It just means that you are going to have to be determined and not give up. Realize that you might come across barriers, but those barriers can be broken down. It might take awhile; it might be scary, but anything really is possible if you want it bad enough!

3. You are capable of far more than you think, and there are resources and people to help you along the way. You may not think that you can do something and then you surprise yourself and do it! It's likely, though, that some type of resource or a person helped you along the way. Utilize the supports that are out there. And, if you need extra support, call KYEA!

4. Have pride in your accomplishments, but don't take it too far. Being proud of yourself is great. Feeling good about what you've done is great. But, just don't get cocky. I've seen many people who have let their accomplishments go to their head. In other words, they brag a lot and think that they are just the most amazing person on the earth. Be humble. You are wonderful, but so is everyone else on this earth.

5. You are ENOUGH with or without accomplishments. You are awesome, did you know that? Maybe you don't feel like you've accomplished a lot in your life so far. Maybe you're not sure where your life is headed. It's okay! You are still a worthwhile and fantastic human being just as you are. While accomplishments are not essential, they will help you increase your self-esteem and confidence. So, that is a definite bonus!

So, just a few tips as you continue your journey of life. Be proud of who you are and what you've done. And never stop reaching for whatever goal is in your heart. It's possible... go for it!
KYEA Staff on the Road for
Pre-ETS Empower Me! Workshops
Four more locations learn about how to be successful in employment
It has been a whirlwind last few months as KYEA has been on the road building employment skills in youth with disabilities across our state! Since our last newsletter, KYEA has held four more Empower Me! Workshops, collaborating with Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). Every group has been unique, but all have allowed us to meet awesome youth in different areas. Check out all of our stops...

Stop #12... Leavenworth! Twenty youth gathered on March 20 for this workshop. The youth who attended were from Leavenworth, Bonner Springs, Basehor, Lansing, and Tonganoxie.

Pre ETS participants and KYEA staff take a group photo during an Empower Me workshop in Leavenworth
Youth participants and KYEA staff gather for a group photo during the Empower Me workshop in Leavenworth.

Stop #13... Ottawa! This workshop was held on April 9 and was attended by 22 youth. These youth were from the towns of Ottawa, Osawatomie, Paola, Garnett, and Fontana.
Pre ETS participants and Pre-ETS staff and KYEA staff take a group photo during an Empower Me workshop in Ottawa
Youth participants, KYEA staff, and Pre-ETS staff gather for a group photo during the Empower Me workshop in Ottawa. 
Stop #14... Kansas City! We headed back out east on April 17. This workshop was attended by 17 youth from Kansas City, Edwardsville, and Bonner Springs.
Pre ETS participants take a group photo during an Empower Me workshop in Kansas City
Youth participants take a group photo during the Empower Me workshop in Kansas City.  
Stop #15... Winfield! Our final stop before summer and the second time that we have visited Winfield. Twenty-four youth gathered on May 2 and attendees came from Winfield, Arkansas City, Wellington, Belle Plaine, and Burden.
Pre ETS participants take a group photo during an Empower Me workshop in Winfield
Youth participants take a group photo during the Empower Me workshop in Winfield. 
Thank you to all of the Pre-ETS staff in the different areas! You all are fantastic to work with! Once again, thanks to all of our panel members and mock interviewers who were a part of these workshops. And, to the many youth who we have met across the state, you guys rock!

As summer begins, we will take a little break from our Empower Me! Workshops with Pre-ETS. But, not to worry, KYEA will be back on the road spreading employment skills in the fall!
We are currently hiring for a new staff member to coordinate these Empower Me workshops. Our Employment Specialist position is still available. Check it out!

Spotlight On!
A Clear Vision for the Future     
Deseray Rodney, Wamego   

Deseray Rodney smiling and wearing scrubs

Deseray Rodney knows what it means to set a goal and achieve it! She has done just that in the last year as she prepares to move into a new phase of her life. Deseray is a great example of how to push past barriers and be determined to create the life that you want. Read on to learn about all of Deseray's accomplishments and her passion for helping others...        
by Dallas Hathaway, Faces of Change alumni and KYEA board member 
Deseray Rodney graduated from Wamego High School in May 2019.  She is a 2018 Kansas Youth Leadership Forum alumni. She has a learning disability and dyslexia, which make reading and writing more challenging for her.

She became interested in the medical field after many people in her family became involved in the field.  Specifically, Deseray's grandmother, who she refers to as "Nana," provides in-home care services. Deseray volunteered at a nursing facility in the past.
"While working with my bosses and other residents, they told me I could become a CNA," Deseray said.

Deseray recently passed her CNA class with 96% and is waiting to receive her license.  Her future job duties may include providing hands-on care to patients including bathing, dressing, checking their vital signs, and blood pressure.

While at the Kansas Youth Leadership Forum in 2018, Deseray set a goal to finish her high school career with all A's and B's.  She exceeded her goal by getting all A's and a 4.0 grade point average. In the future, she hopes to become employed at Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan, Kansas.

I asked Deseray what advice she would give to someone who is looking to receive their CNA license.  She said she thinks that it's important for them to consider whether they have a disability or not. Also, "no matter what you do, if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything you want in life if you work hard for it," she said.

When she gets a job as a CNA, Deseray is looking forward to seeing the smiles and happiness on others faces after her shift ends.  

"People do not always get to choose the situation they are in, and I want to make it better for them," she said.

Deseray told me she would eventually like to join the Navy and get her CMA or RN license.  She also hopes to buy a house and have a family in the future.

In her free time, Deseray enjoys spending time with family and friends.  She likes to play softball and exercise. She has five pets, including three dogs and two cats.

Lastly, she shared with me who her biggest inspiration in life is.  

"My biggest inspiration is my father, Thomas Rodney. He is hardworking and goes out of his way to help his family and friends.  My father is the meaning of happiness, and I love him," Deseray said.

I truly enjoyed the short time I spent getting to know Deseray.  She certainly knows what she wants to achieve in life, and I believe she has all the skills she needs to make it happen.  Thank you again for sharing your story with me, Deseray. 
Employment Success!
Wichita youth overcomes challenges to land her dream job  
by Johnna Godinez, Program Assistant   

Caprice takes a photo with her Pre ETS specialist Kathy
Last November, KYEA staff traveled to Wichita to give an Empower Me! Workshop. This is a collaboration between KYEA and Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS).  Before each workshop begins, we introduce ourselves to each youth participant. We met Caprice and shook her hand, but she really did not speak much that day. Often, we never know what type of impact that KYEA has on the Pre-ETS youth, but the Pre-ETS program, along with our workshop, must have made a positive impression upon this one youth.

Recently, we learned about the great successes that Caprice Davis has had in this last year. Caprice has achieved her dream job at McDonald's. During our workshop, Caprice stated that her employment goal was to "cook fries" at a restaurant. A wonderful goal indeed, yet there is so much more to the story. Kathy Schale, Caprice's Pre-ETS Specialist, shared in a written success story about all of the challenges that Caprice has had to get to where she is at today. From having trouble with even writing an employment plan to dealing with her various disabilities and then figuring out how to "express her anger and frustration" in a more constructive way, Caprice has definitely had to overcome some barriers on her path to employment. Kathy shared that one of Caprice's skills is that she is open to constructive criticism. During her job-search journey, Caprice had difficulty locating the required documents for employment, money for a Kansas ID, and transportation. She also had to figure out some issues with her bank account. But, Caprice persevered! Kathy said that Caprice "kept trying through all the obstacles and took responsibility for completing the things she could." In fact, Caprice found her own job at McDonald's before the Workforce staff found her a placement.

In my interview with Caprice, she stated that what she did to get a job at McDonalds's was to "follow the [Pre-ETS] program and be on time." Caprice filled out and submitted her application, and her parents helped her with transportation to her interview. Fast forward and Caprice was hired and has been working since January. Not only has her goal of "cooking fries" been met, but Caprice stated that she can now "do everything" at her job.

Caprice's new goal is to learn how to drive, and she is currently saving for a car. Well done Caprice! KYEA is very proud of you. 
Alumni Accomplishment...
Ben Berlin uses artistic skills to create his own employment   
While Ben Berlin is not a youth by our definition anymore, he is still one of our alumni. A few weeks ago, we caught up with Ben and learned that he has had some great accomplishments in the area of employment. Ben enjoys drawing and has made this into a job for himself. Ben currently draws pictures that he then sells for commission. He even has a full website of his drawings! Ben shared with us that he has been selling his art for about 4-6 months now and has already sold 3-5 creations. He will draw anything that the customer requests. His price range is typically between $3 and $15, but he is also willing to negotiate. Ben shared that his main reason for wanting some extra money was to be able to take it with him to Bronycon in August. Ben is a great example of creating your own employment that works for you. Congrats Ben on a successful start with this new adventure!

To inquire about Ben creating something for you, email him at

Below is just one example of Ben's work.
Colorful drawing of a Thanksgiving dinner with ponies as the characters
Question of the Month
What has been your biggest accomplishment in your life so far?    
quotation mark For me, it hasn't been one thing. It has been a combination of a lot things that I reflect on. Over the past 5 years, I have changed and grown so much. I have been living on my own the last 3 years. I have bought two trucks, gotten myself completely out of debt, paid off my old truck, supported my racing career and done really well too. I have moved up in the company and have a pretty important position in the company. So for me, I am able to accomplish anything that I set my mind too.
- Alex Owen, KSYLF Alumni '12

Becoming a mom.
- Giauni Creasman, KSYLF Alumna '16

Working at a fast food place for the past 12 years and going strong and never letting things get me down.
- Seth Wagner, KSYLF Alumni '12

My three daughters! I was told I wouldn't be able to have kids due to my medical condition.
- Danielle Willcott, KSYLF Alumna '07

Having a girl for the past 5 months, which is probably the biggest accomplishment in my life. 5 months and still going strong.
- Kyle Christine, KSYLF Alumni '11

Completing my first year of college and tomorrow I will be leaving for Germany through  study abroad. And also overcoming quotation marksome of the toughest months of my life that tested my mental health.
- Michaela VanDuesen, KSYLF Alumna '17
News and Events
Opportunities in Kansas
- If you are a high school student who is deaf, then you might want to attend the Junior National Association for the Deaf Retreat Weekend. This event will be held August 1-4 at the KS School for the Deaf. It is open to 9th-12th graders in Kansas who are deaf or hard of hearing. The event is free and will include presenters, team-building activities, leadership learning, and more! For more information, email  
- The annual Self-Advocate Coalition of Kansas Conference is right around the corner in June! This is a great conference and an opportunity for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities to meet, share, and learn from each other and experts in the field. Participants have the opportunity to choose from many different learning sessions. A motivating keynote speaker and other activities are also offered at the conference. Contact SACK at 785-749-5588 to learn more and register.  
- Are you an artist with a disability that lives around the Topeka area? The Topeka Independent Living Resource Center is searching for artists to submit artwork for their art show on August 2. This show is in honor of the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It will be held as part of the First Fridays Artwalk from 4:00 to 7:30 p.m. Artists need to provide a brief biography and are encouraged to attend the event. There is no entry fee for the competition. Artists will be able to offer their works for sale. For more information, contact Jolene at 785-233-4572 or
- Are you in Topeka and looking for an exciting internship for the summer? The Topeka Independent Living Resource Center is seeking applications for their George Wolf Youth Internship Program. This program seeks youth with and without disabilities ages 14 and 19. Spend the summer working with other youth your age while getting paid to help improve your community! Learn about disability rights and become part of the Independent Living Movement! For more information contact Taylor Moore at 785-233-4572 or
- Looking to do some community service work this summer? Then consider doing a summer project with Youth Volunteer Corps. There are various chapters around the state and various service projects going on this summer. To find a YVC in your area, visit the YVC website.      
Opportunities on a National Level
- Have you heard of the NCIL Conference before? If not, you might consider attending! The National Council on Independent Living hosts a yearly national conference where people with disabilities and their allies join together to learn and advocate. This conference will be July 22-25 in Washington, DC. They are currently offering scholarships specifically for youth with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 26! The deadline to apply is July 1. Learn more

- The Center on Technology and Disability has created this really cool new online resource to help prepare youth for employment! The Art of Active Listening is a web-based game intended to strengthen the skills of students with disabilities and prepare them for post-secondary environments, specifically the workforce. The games go over scenarios like the interview process, getting started on the job, on the job experiences, and standing up for yourself on the job. View the website

- If you are looking for an exciting internship in the healthcare field in another state, then you might check out Anthem's Inclusive Internship! Anthem is looking for smart motivated students who are interested in an opportunity to help define or broaden their career path, and support disability inclusion in the workplace. Students with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. Internships may be in the areas of inside sales, cost of care, customer care, data and platforms enablement, health plans, network management, operations, or disability policy engagement. Students from accredited colleges and universities from all majors are encouraged to apply. Learn more

- SCHOLARSHIP! NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship
College students with disabilities who are pursuing a career in media, communications, or entertainment are encouraged to apply. The deadline to apply is June 6, 2019. Learn more

- SCHOLARSHIP! Innovation in Motion Scholarship Program will award one $1,000 scholarship and one $500 gift card to This scholarship is open to students who are manual or power wheelchair users enrolled at an accredited 4-year institution. All you have to do is write a message - a poem, paint - anything that expresses what "life in motion" means to you. Entries must be postmarked by June 30. Learn more

- The Spinal Cord Injury and Disability Research Center is recruiting for a study to test a psychological health promotion program for women with spinal cord injury (SCI). This 10-week program is delivered in an online virtual world. Participants will receive a small payment for their time. For more information, contact or 713-797-7572.


Be on the lookout for our next issue that will come out in August!
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Keep up to date on the latest KYEA happenings, help us connect with you, and meet other youth with disabilities around the state!
Thanks for reading our newsletter this month! Learn more about KYEA by going to our website at!

Let us know what you think about our newsletter! If there is anything that we can do to make our newsletter more accessible or more interesting to you, please call us at 785-215-6655 so we can make the change for next time.
Carrie Greenwood
Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy
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Sharing all things new in our KYEA world...
KS Youth Leadership Forum 2019 Delegates Announced!  
KSYLF dove logo The Kansas Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities (KSYLF) is gearing up for its nineteenth annual program. Twenty-six motivated young leaders have been selected to attend the 2019 forum. This year's KSYLF will be held July 9 - 13 at Washburn University in Topeka.

Throughout the week of the KSYLF, delegates will learn what leadership means in their life and how they can use their unique abilities to make a difference in our state. They will also learn about how to write and successfully achieve goals. Delegates will be exposed to community resources and leaders that can help them achieve these goals. They will be encouraged to celebrate their disabilities, use their voice to advocate for their wants and needs, and create their own future. A diverse group of delegates were selected to attend the 2019 KSYLF, including students from a variety of cities in Kansas with a wide range of disabilities.

The KSYLF is an annual conference that is heading into its nineteenth year serving students with disabilities across the state. During the forum, delegates enjoy a week full of learning, fun, friends, and, most of all, a new sense of empowerment! Through various large and small sessions, delegates are able to learn about and explore various topics related to leadership. They are able to set goals for the future and develop their very own Personal Leadership Plan. A trip to the Capital is always a highlight of the week, as well as a mentor luncheon where delegates are paired with an adult mentor from their community. Other fun activities include a recreation session, a real life fair, a barbecue, a talent show, and a dance!

Read the full press release for a list of selected delegates.  
Faces of Change Moves to August... Apply Today!  
Faces of Change logo with a black and white face and arrows going around it Are you someone with leadership skills who would like to use those skills to change your community? Faces of Change is still taking applications for our 2019 class, and we have changed the dates of the program. Our next program will take place August 2019 - March 2020, so you still have time to apply! 
Faces of Change is a leadership program offered by KYEA, designed for young adults from the ages of 17 through 25 years old.  Faces is an advanced leadership training and focuses on civic engagement and commitment to others.
The goal of Faces is for you to sharpen your existing leadership skills, as well as explore what leadership style works for you. This program is geared to assist you in learning about motivating others, various communication styles, working as a team, using mentors for guidance in leadership, and creating a community change project.  Faces aids you in exploring a change that you wish to make in your community.  You will make new connections with peers and with innovative speakers who are leaders from across Kansas.   
Faces meets one weekend per month for seven months in Topeka.  There are fun and challenging group activities and after hours opportunities to socialize.  Oh yeah, did we mention it is free?!  Have we piqued your interest yet?
If you are interested in applying, please contact us by email at to get your application.  There is a process for applying and being accepted, but don't get nervous about that, just get your application and get started.

KYEA Seeking Award Nominations
We are still seeking nominations for our three annual KYEA awards. Consider nominating someone that you know! Nominations are due by JUNE 7! Check out the awards below:

This is given out to a KSYLF alumni who has demonstrated progress toward their goals and growth as a leader. Alumni can either nominate themselves or be nominated by someone else.

Mentoring Matters logo MENTORING MATTERS AWARD
This award is given to individuals in our state who have made a difference serving as a mentor to a youth with a disability. This could include one-on-one mentoring, job shadowing, group mentoring, or e-mentoring.

This award is for champions of young people with disabilities in our state... they promote the contributions of youth and have a passion for empowering our next generation. Examples could include being a volunteer at KYEA, involvement in another youth program, actively sharing a message, etc.
Purple and yellow graduation cap
Congratulations to all of our alumni, friends, volunteers, and supporters who have recently graduated! We are proud of you and celebrate your accomplishments with you! We can't wait to watch as your future unfolds.
Completing My First Year of College!  
Are you thinking of going to college, but are not sure if it's the right thing for you? Daija Coleman admits that college is not easy, but it is completely doable and can help you grow as a person. Read on for Daija's story of excelling in her first year of college... 
by Daija Coleman, KSYLF Alumna '17

Daija takes a photo with a speaker after a conference at Washburn When I first started college, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. At eighteen years old, I was on my own for the very first time. It had its challenges, but they were easily solved by getting involved and evolving my independence. I just finished my freshmen year at Washburn University, and I couldn't be happier or more excited to continue with my education. I was overall successful in my endeavors, and I found my calling within education.

Getting involved was really the key to my success. I got involved in Greek Life on campus which gave me an outlet to make friends and kept my mind focused on my academics.  At the end of the first semester, I was recognized as a first-year experience scholar for my grade point average. Also got involved with the LinC Bonner Scholar program, which is a civic engagement and community involvement organization on campus which students complete one thousand hours of community service. My service site this year was Communities In Schools of Mid-America which aids to relieve child poverty within the school system. From September to May, I spent time in a first-grade classroom which showed me my true passion of teaching.

College has been a redefining experience for me. Not only have I successfully completed the transition from high school to college, but also have had a successful transition from adolescence to adulthood. I got my first job on campus, and, while I was only making minimum wage, I was finally making my own money. I have learned so many lessons this past year and cannot wait to continue with the adventure that is life.
Even More Accomplishments!
Youth with disabilities all over our state are doing awesome things! Every single day, another young person is accomplishing something that means a lot to them. Check out just a few more examples of youth of all ages and their achievements... 

Ariana Hutchinson
Ariana Hutchinson holds an award and looks at her teacher during a school recognition ceremony    
Ariana Hutchinson has been featured in our newsletter before, and she is back with more accomplishments! Ariana decided to try out for the Freshman Cheerleading team at Topeka High School, and she made it! Ariana is wheelchair mobile, so she had to approach her school to talk with them about the possibility of her trying out. Once she got past that hurdle and got the courage to try out, it paid off! Ariana goes to cheer camp in July at Coffeyville Junior College. Not only did she make the cheerleading team, but she also was recognized at her school for her advocacy efforts in the last school year. Last year, Ariana wrote a letter to a school in her district encouraging them to make their stage accessible. They decided to install a wheelchair lift. Ariana was celebrated at her school recently for her awesome advocacy efforts!
Ezekiel Rebold
Ezekiel smiling and wearing his graduation cap and gown    
Ezekiel Rebold has a path for his future and is determined to succeed! Ezekiel recently graduated from Wellington High School. He has been accepted into Tulsa Welding School and will start there in the fall. Ezekiel has also been selected for 4-5 different scholarships that will assist him in paying for school. His ultimate goal is to be on the mission field building churches and water wells. Congrats to Ezekiel for graduating and creating a great plan for his future!
OE Barth
OE Barth smiles for the camera as she wears her crown and sash as Little Miss Wheelchair Kansas  
OE Barth was selected as Little Miss Wheelchair Kansas 2019 this past March! OE is 11 years old and is a 4th grader at North Fairview Elementary in Topeka. She has Cerebral Palsy and communicates through an AAC device. As Little Miss, OE will be attending different events in Topeka and other cities and will be interacting with Kansans of all ages. She has already attended the Lawrence St. Patrick's Day Parade, the Blarney Breakfast to benefit the Capper Foundation, and the Mid America Games. OE is also being mentored by Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2019, Andrea Romero, throughout this year. She is very excited about her new title! "I am excited to be Little Miss Wheelchair Kansas. I love to wear my tiara, go to special events, and meet new people. It is fun," OE said.
Hannah Barth
Hannah Barth holds up her Student of the Month certificate and smiles     
OE is not the only Barth sibling that is accomplishing things! Her sister, Hannah, has recently had some accomplishments of her own. She was awarded the title of Student of the Month in May at North Fairview Elementary in Topeka! This is a big deal for Hannah, who is 11 years old. She has a brain injury and an intellectual disability. School has been a challenge for Hannah, but she has worked hard and has made great progress this past quarter. She was very excited and proud of herself. Hannah said, "I did that, I did a good job!"
Wesley Sutton
Wesley Sutton sits on his new grey and black moped outside  
Wesley Sutton has wanted to be able to drive for a long time. This goal finally became a reality when he recently purchased his own scooter/moped. Wesley is visually impaired, so he assumed that he would never be able to independently transport himself in a vehicle. Wesley's vision has improved, though, in the last 6 years. The doctor told him that he could go ahead and purchase a scooter/moped to get around on in-town streets, and that's exactly what Wesley did! He is very excited about his newfound freedom. "I can be more independent. It's almost like I'm a new person in a way," Wesley said. 
Community Power!
Circle with different types of disability logos
Highlighting helpful resources throughout the state
A word from Johnna Godinez, Program Assistant -
"For our Community Power article, we are now focusing on agencies or programs that work with and assist people with disabilities in Kansas. The tradition of a youth writer will continue in the next newsletter. To kick off our first non-CIL article, I reached out to an important division within the Kansas Department for Health and Environment. Read on to learn how the Special Health Care Needs agency can help you or someone that you know..."

by Johnna Godinez, Program Assistant      
Special Health Care Needs (SHCN) for children and youth may be a program that you do not know about, but you may need to know about them someday. First, you need to know that this program is not KanCare or a Managed Care Organization (MCO). Second, it is not special education services for young children ages 0-3, also known as Tiny-K. SHCN is a state mandated program that works with families to create individual family plans that focus on what the family and the youth needs, while ensuring that there is not a duplication of services by other providers. So, who can use their services? Some young children are referred after a screening, or from a hospital, or older youth might access the program in elementary school. To qualify, a child or youth up to age 21 must have a metabolic condition (Diabetes, hyperthyroidism, etc.), have a disability, or be at risk for one.  

You might be thinking, "great, but Johnna how can SHCN help me?"  Super glad you asked! SHCN can work with you on your transition from high school to employment or college, a community college, or technical school. Maybe you need accommodations and they can help you get connected to the right office. Perhaps you're going to lose your health insurance once you graduate from high school. SHCN can help you find new health insurance. Maybe your goal is to go to the doctor by yourself, and you need to create a goal on your plan where you work with your specialist on a list of questions to ask your doctor. Perhaps, you are like me, and you're super medically-complicated with two metabolic conditions, legally-blind, and two mental health disabilities. I have learned via trial and error to coordinate all of my healthcare appointments. SHCN can help you to learn how to coordinate all of your healthcare needs. There is also funding to assist with food and housing insecurity, and, for those who have incredibly high health insurance co-pays, you might qualify for financial assistance to help with co-pays.  

SHCN has offices all over the state. You can meet with the staff in-person, by phone, or by email. For more information about this state program, contact SHCN at (785) 296-1313 or visit
Blue calendar
CIL Calendar
Want to get involved with your local Center for Independent Living? Here are exciting upcoming opportunities:

Independence, Inc. (Lawrence) 
Access Task Force/Peer Support Group/Self Advocate Coalition of Kansas Picnic  
Saturday, June 8
11:30 am to 2:00 pm
Holcomb Park Shelter (2601 West 25th St- enter by way of Lawrence Avenue)
*To have your CIL's event dates listed in future issues, contact Johnna at