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

Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy Newsletter
Issue #50
November 2019
in this issue
:: Through Julia's Eyes
:: KYEA and Pre-ETS Continue Empower Me Workshops
:: Madonna's Corner
:: Top 10 KYEA Moments of 2019
:: Spotlight On: Shane Lewis
:: Resources to Help You Be Independent
:: State and National Opportunities
:: KYEA News
:: We Are Thankful For FUNDING!
:: Following in Roger's Footsteps: Anthony's First YLF Experience
:: Just A Glimpse: Blogs and Vlogs by People with Disabilities
:: Each Day Brings Fresh Opportunities!
:: Question of the Month
:: Community Power: Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas

Multicolored leaves with the words Give Thanks in cursive below the leaves
We are so thankful. We are thankful that you are reading this newsletter. We are thankful for all of the awesome updates that we have to share with you. We are thankful for the fun holidays that are right around the corner. And we are thankful that KYEA has been able to serve youth with disabilities in our state for another year.

It's November, so, naturally, our newsletter is focused on being thankful. But, this year, we have taken a different spin on this and are sharing what we, as an organization, are thankful for. Then, you get to read a story related to each of these things! So, read on to find out the many things that we are thankful for this year.

As always, we have lots of program updates for you, and, since it is towards the end of the year, our infamous Top 10 List! There are also lots of other unique opportunities on a state and national level that you should check out.

THANK YOU for your support in this last year... no matter who you are! We will not be doing a newsletter in December, so we want to take the time to say HAPPY THANKSGIVING, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, and HAPPY NEW YEAR! See you in 2020!

- Carrie Greenwood, Program Coordinator 
Through Julia's Eyes Julia Connellis in KYEA shirt
by Julia Connellis, Executive Director
"I Can. I Will!"

As I reflect on all that I am thankful for regarding KYEA, such as youth, funders, volunteers, and more, I realize that, while having these things are essential, without staff (my co-workers), none of this would be possible.  We have youth in need, but, without staff to coordinate the programs, provide support, and resources, the youth would not be served.  We have funders, but without staff, we could not meet the goals we committed to in order to keep our funding.  We have volunteers, but without staff, we would not have any programs for volunteers to serve in.

I typically compare our office dynamics to that of a family.  We spend the majority of our time together; we work in close quarters; we get irritated with each other; we eat lunch together; we support each other through the hard times; and we celebrate when there is success. Have you ever noticed how you can appreciate and thank others, but tend to overlook doing that with your family?  I am the first to admit that I get so bogged down with other details of my job that, while I appreciate my co-workers in my head, I forget to thank them and appreciate them out loud as often as I should. Each one has an important role within this organization that goes beyond their title.

Without Celeste, Administrative Assistant, I would not hear about what her dog has recently destroyed, miss out on her amazing crafting talent, and, of course, miss eating her amazing brown sugar meatloaf.

Without Carrie, Program Coordinator, I would miss riding in her awesome accessible van, miss watching her grow Ms. Wheelchair Kansas, and her protecting me from the eight legged creepy crawlies.

Without Johnna, Program Assistant, I would miss her organizing a potluck for any and every holiday she can think of, her commitment to getting the office decorated for the holidays, and, of course, her laugh.

Without Rosie, Faces of Change Contractor, I would miss yelling at her for not pushing in her chair, hearing her laugh because Madonna has put her bone on Rosie's chair... again, and watching her awful luck with technology.

My co-workers are more than just instruments to get the mission of KYEA accomplished.  They are my friends, my posse, and most of all, my family! From the bottom of my heart, thank you Celeste, Carrie, Johnna, and Rosie!
Different colored leaves in orange red and green
We are thankful for...  
KYEA and Pre-ETS Continue Empower Me Workshops  
4 more locations learn about employment with more stops to come
 KYEA has been on the road, once again, visiting different cities and bringing employment awareness to young people with disabilities. As school started back up, so did our Empower Me! Workshops with Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). In the last few months, we have held workshops in four more cities. Check out our recent stops:

Stop #16... Pittsburg! We headed to the southeast part of the state for this workshop held on September 17. Twelve youth came from Pittsburg, Girard, Baxter Springs, Chanute, and Independence to attend this workshop.
Participants of the Pittsburg Empower Me workshop gather for a photo Participants of the Pittsburg Pre-ETS
Empower Me Workshop take a group photo
with KYEA and Pre-ETS staff.  

Stop #17... Salina! This was our third time hosting an Empower Me! in Salina and 24 youth attended. The workshop was held on September 24. Attendees came from Salina, Tescott, Abilene, Soloman, New Cambria, Geneseo, and Assaria. Thanks to Project SEARCH for hosting us for the day!

Participants of the Salina Empower Me workshop gather for a photo
Participants of the Salina Pre-ETS
Empower Me Workshop gather with KYEA
and Pre-ETS staff for a photo.

Stop #18... Andover! Our Butler County workshop was held in Andover on November 6. We had 10 youth attend, and they were from the cities of El Dorado, Douglass, Andover, Ebling, and Whitewater.
Participants of the Andover Empower Me workshop gather for a photo
Participants of the Andover Pre-ETS
Empower Me Workshop take a group photo
with KYEA and Pre-ETS staff.

Stop #19... Wichita! Our latest trip was a two for one as we made stops in Andover AND Wichita. This was the third time that we have done this workshop in Wichita and 24 youth attended. They came from Wichita, Maize, and Haysville.
Participants of the Wichita Empower Me workshop gather for a photo
Participants of the Wichita Pre-ETS
Empower Me Workshop gather for a photo
with KYEA and Pre-ETS staff.

As always, thank you to the awesome Pre-ETS staff for working with us on these workshops! Thank you also to the youth attendees who make our job worth it! We have met so many fantastic young people as we travel the state doing these workshops- the workforce world better watch out for them!

We have a busy year of workshops ahead of us! Check out our other scheduled dates and, if you qualify, talk to your Pre-ETS Specialist about attending:

December 2- Topeka
January 21- Overland Park
February 11- Lawrence
February- Kansas City
March 24- Abilene
April 28- Beloit
We are currently hiring for a new staff member to coordinate our Empower Me workshops in collaboration with Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS). Our Employment Specialist position is available. Check it out!

We are thankful for...  
Madonna- a fluffy white poodle wearing a pink and purple bow
Madonna's Corner!

Our therapeutic manager reflects on her thankful list!     

This whole newsletter is about being thankful, so it only makes sense that Madonna had to have her thankful list too. Read on for all of the wonderful things that Madonna is grateful for since her "gotcha" day...   
In 2016, mommy (Julia) rescued me from the orphanage (Helping Hands Humane Society).  As I take my KYEA job seriously, during my many naps, I dream about all the things I have been thankful for since my "gotcha" day.

1. Riding in Celeste's yellow car and always finding something to nibble on under the seats.
2. All my hiding spots for my bones that no one has discovered... Shhh! 
3. Lunchtime when my people feed me food under the table that mommy does not know about. 
4. Carrie's niece Kat (she is a dog, but I call her Kat, short for Kathryn).  I wuv (love) it when she visits the office! 
5. Johnna talking to me even though I have left the room.  It is a little trick I play on her.  Hehe! 
6. Rosie's office chair... read my mommy's story to hear why. 
7. All the love that I receive from whoever walks into the office.  Well, except for that one FedEx driver and restaurant delivery person.  You would think I smelled like dog the way they stayed away from me! As if!

Have you thanked your humans recently?  Go ahead, I double dog dare you! 
We are thankful for... UNIQUE MOMENTS IN THE YEAR!
Top 10 KYEA Moments of 2019!
Top 10 that looks like a trophy Another year has gone by and so much has happened in 2019. From programs to interactions with our youth to random happenings in our office, there are many standout moments that we will look back on and remember. Each year, we compile our list of Top 10 KYEA Moments. Enjoy reading our list for 2019 (in no particular order)!
1. KSYLF Talent Show- an awesome part of this program each year, but this year was one for the books! (Carrie)

2. When Adam Calven (PCA) randomly dressed up in a dinosaur costume during a Faces weekend and walked through the hotel. We have pictures to prove it! (Julia)

3. When one of our youth, named Tyson, who attended our Pre-ETS workshop in Pittsburg stated, "It's a great day at the workshop!" This just shocked us since he was so quiet and kept to himself. (Johnna)

4. Spooking up KYEA for Halloween. There was so much joy surrounding the decorating, as well as collaborating with other staff on how to decorate. (Celeste)

5. KYEA Fundraiser at Texas Roadhouse- we got to support KYEA, eat good food, and come together with our fellow staff and supporters. (Carrie)

6. All of our Pre-ETS Empower Me workshops where we travel all over Kansas and meet and train youth on employment. (Johnna)

7. When we had a Boss's Day potluck and Johnna accidentally got mashed potatoes flung at her, not once, but twice. (Celeste)

8. Presentation for Para In-Service for Topeka 501 Schools- a really great opportunity to educate paras, but some of our alumni joined us and impressed the heck out of us! (Carrie)

9. Every time that we get to work with volunteers on our different programs. Volunteers make the team work so that the dream works! (Johnna)

10. How supportive my co-workers are, and the undying laughter we share each day, especially at lunch. (Celeste)
We are thankful for...  
Spotlight On!
Giving Back and Encouraging Others 
Shane Lewis, Tonganoxie    

Shane Lewis smiling

There are some youth in this world who have so much potential and just give you hope that our future is in good hands. Shane Lewis is one of those people. Shane has learned a lot through his own personal experiences and challenges and is now using his leadership skills to help others. Read on to learn all about Shane and the awesome things that he is doing for his school community... 
by Dallas Hathaway, Faces of Change alumni  
Inspiring others can be a difficult task to accomplish.  Whether it means encouraging people to vote, or picking up trash at a local park, a leader has to motivate people to act.

Shane Lewis, a senior at Tonganoxie High School, is doing just that.  Shane is an individual with cerebral palsy, who stays busy with extracurricular activities.  He is a 2019 KSYLF alumni and is currently participating in KYEA's Faces of Change program.  Although he is currently expanding his leadership potential, Shane is no stranger to being a leader.

Shane was in foster care for a large part of his childhood.  He described how his experiences offered him a different perspective on the meaning of family and what it means to be there for others.

During his freshman year, Shane noticed that people at his school had trouble forming relationships.  As a result, he created the club, Chieftainfriends, to help resolve the problem.

Shane said the group typically meets during home room for about 30 minutes during the week.  

"People can go and ask for help with a class, or use the club as a social group," Shane said.  

The group also features many students with disabilities.

Shane also stays busy with the school pep club.  He has been a Red Captain in the pep club for the last two years.  With this responsibility, Shane gets to help come up with the cheers and work with the team and cheerleaders to create exciting events during the school year.

A leader needs "to be helpful and to always be there and be a nice person," Shane said.  

Throughout my conversation with Shane, I could tell this was his primary style of leadership.

In the future, Shane wants to attend college, find a good job, get married, and have children.  By becoming employed, he hopes that he will be able to spoil his siblings.  During our discussion, Shane revealed that his dream job is to become a motivational speaker and hopes to talk with others about what it's like to have a disability.

As for other young leaders who have disabilities, Shane wants you to know that your "disability does not define you, but it is a part of who you are," he said.

In his free time, he enjoys spending time with friends, playing video games, learning about superheroes, and watching YouTube videos about comic books.

I enjoyed getting to know Shane and learning more about how he inspires others.  If you would like to learn more about Chieftainfriends, please visit   
We are thankful for...
Do You Want To Be Independent? 
There are so many resources to help you! 
As a person with a disability, you have access to so many resources in our state that other people don't get to use. Did you know that? If you want to be independent, there is a resource to help you do it! From living on our own to utilizing transportation, from obtaining assistive technology to having health insurance, KYEA staff have used as many resources as possible to be independent adults. We are so thankful for all of these resources and wanted to make sure that our readers know about these resources too! See all that they can provide for you...

Vocational Rehabilitation
Provides: assistance with getting employed, job prep, career exploration, funds for college/training, funds for employment needs (technology, dental work, transportation, etc)

Provides: loans for assistive technology, ideas for other funding sources

Working Healthy
Provides: health insurance for people with disabilities who want to work, personal care attendant services, funds to cover assistive services (house accessibility, medical equipment, etc)

Kansas ABLE Savings Plan
Provides: an option to save more money as a person with a disability while keeping your SSI and Medicaid, options to invest money

Assistive Technology for Kansans
Provides: access to many different kinds of assistive technology, loaned equipment, refurbished equipment, ideas for funding sources

Centers for Independent Living
Provides: guidance and options for living independently, exposure to peer support from others with disabilities, information on other resources, awareness of local disability events, advocacy (click on centers for independent living)

Disability Rights Center
Provides: advocacy, direction and information for instances when you feel discriminated against, voting resources

KDHE Special Healthcare Needs
Provides: family planning and financial assistance for those with metabolic disabilities

State Conferences / Large Gatherings (Disability Caucus, SACK Conference, Employment First Conference, etc.)
Provides: information, resources, opportunities to meet people with disabilities, networking opportunities, situations to practice communication and professionalism skills, empowerment, lots of FUN!
Also know that there are a ton of other resources in our state! To find more, visit our Resources Page on our website.
News and Events
Opportunities in Kansas
- If you are a teen with ADHD that would like to take on a leadership role, then check this out! ADHDKCTeen is searching for new teen leaders. Duties include planning and leading games before meetings, helping with a blog, helping with editing meeting videos, and more. To learn more, email  
- Are you 18 years or older with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) and living with Type 2 Diabetes? The Disability and Health program wants to hear from you! A listening session is being held in your community with a small group of people with I/DD to talk about a new video about diabetes. They want to know what you think of the video. Your voice can make a difference to help make the video a success. To get involved, contact Kim Bruns at or 913-523-6574.
- Do you have a mobility-related disability and are looking to lose weight? You may be eligible for the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Study. This weight management program provides diet guidance, physical activity and social interaction without leaving your home! All participants must be over the age of 18 with a mobility related disability. They must also live within 50 miles of Kansas City or Lawrence. Learn more 
- Applications are now available to attend a college program for students with disabilities at KU! The KU Transition to Postsecondary Education (KU TPE) program is a 2-year, inclusive undergraduate certificate at KU for students with an intellectual disability. The application deadline is January 3. Learn more 
- Families Together has many Family Employment Awareness Trainings (FEAT) coming up in different areas, including Garden City, Lawrence, and Wichita. Attend one to learn more about people with disabilities and employment! Learn more  
- The Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities is seeking new council members! They are looking for self-advocates, as well as non-profit and non-governmental organizations concerned with IDD Services. KCDD supports people with developmental disabilities so they have the opportunity to make choices regarding participation in society and quality of life. To get an application or for more details, email     
Opportunities on a National Level

- Would you like to share how access to health care and insurance may be affecting your life? The Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living (CHRIL) is looking for adults with disabilities to complete an online survey about health insurance and health care services. Whether you have private insurance, insurance from an employer, TRICARE, Medicaid, Medicare, or no insurance, you can still complete the survey. Take the survey

- Too many lives are cut short by suicide. It is the 2nd leading cause of death among people ages 10-34. The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, H.R. 4194, is a bipartisan bill that would create an easy-to-remember 3-digit number as the nationwide hotline for suicide prevention and mental health crisis. This number will make it easier for people in the U.S. experiencing a crisis to receive immediate and appropriate mental health support and referral. If you would like to help make this number a reality, contact your Congress person. Learn more

- CRCC Asia is excited to officially open its 2019 applications for 5 fully-funded inclusion scholarships for students from diverse backgrounds to undertake a program in Beijing or Ho Chi Minh City. They are encouraging college students with disabilities to apply. The deadline to submit an application is November 30. Apply now

- Speaking of international work, Mobility International USA is hiring for their Program Coordinator position. This person should have excellent research, partnership development, and communications skills. This is a mid-level professional position that works collaboratively on national level projects. Learn more

- The National Council on Independent Living has recently published a new learning series that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities learn about sexuality. The project has videos and a learning guide. The videos and guide were made for people with I/DD to use even if they don't have someone to help them. Learn more
Happy Thanksgiving picture with pumpkins and leaves
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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!


Be on the lookout for our next issue that will come out in February!
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
Donate to KYEA!
Do you believe in the KYEA mission of empowering and supporting youth with disabilities in our state? Consider making a donation! We appreciate any and all support to help us keep changing lives!
(just click on the DONATE button)
Sharing all things new in our KYEA world...
KS Youth Leadership Forum Seeking Delegates and Volunteers  
KSYLF delegates and volunteers smile and point at the camera
We continue to search for applicants for our Kansas Youth Leadership Forum... apply today! Remember, our application deadline is December 15. We are searching for high school juniors and seniors with disabilities who have leadership interest or potential. This is an experience that you don't want to miss!

Are you not quite sure if you want to apply? Would you like to know more about what you will get from this program? Well, you will gain:

  • New leadership skills to take back to your community
  • Information about resources that will help you reach your goals
  • Experiences that will help you speak out and advocate more
  • Successful adult mentors who will support you
  • A large new set of friends from all over the state
  • Memories gained from our barbecue, talent show, dance, and more
  • Tools, opportunities, and experiences that will change your life forever!
So, why wouldn't you apply? But, don't wait! Again, delegate applications are due by December 15
We are also now accepting applications for volunteers for our 2020 KSYLF! We are searching for committed, enthusiastic people who are willing to devote a week to this great program. Do you have the skills and passion to facilitate groups and motivate youth with disabilities? Then consider serving as a volunteer at this year's KSYLF.

Past volunteers, KSYLF alumni, and new volunteers are encouraged to apply! Volunteer applicants must fill out our application form, as well as two background checks, and send to the KYEA office by February 14, 2020.

KYEA Searching for New Board Members   
A speech bubble that says We Need You The Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy is looking for a few good people! We have several board of director's positions open. These are not paid positions, but volunteer positions.  
Are you interested in supporting youth with disabilities in reaching their goals and become independent? Are you interested in helping an organization find stability through policies, fundraising, and organizational leadership? Are you a hard worker who is willing to attend periodic meetings, help with decision-making, and work on tasks when needed?  
These volunteer positions on our Board of Directors are open to Kansas residents and those who are 16 years of age and beyond. So, do you think you might be one of those few good people were looking for? For more information contact Julia Connellis at
We are thankful for...  
One of the most essential parts of achieving the KYEA mission... FUNDING!
Thank You There is a very important piece of running an organization and putting together programs. Can you guess what that piece is? It is essential to what we do at KYEA and yet it can be very challenging to get. It is money. While money does not make the world go 'round, it really is a must for making our organization and programs operate each year. So, we are TRULY grateful to all of our funders and donors!

KYEA has a lot of different agencies, organizations, grants, and people who donate to us each year. We have main funders that keep our doors open and allow us to pay staff, have an office, etc. Then, we also have various places and people who provide funding for each of our many programs. We also have many stores, restaurants, and other places who donate in kind goods like gift cards, prizes, food, etc, for each of our programs. Each of these helps us to achieve our mission of serving and empowering youth with disabilities each year.

So, if you are, or have ever been, one of our donors, THANK YOU!!! You don't know how much your giving means to us and to the youth that we serve. In the long run, it changes lives.

To view our current funders, check out the Funding Page of our website. And don't forget to check out their websites too!
We are thankful for...  
Following in Roger's Footsteps 
Anthony Frischenmeyer shares how volunteering for the KSYLF has greatly impacted his life!
KYEA would not be what it is today without our amazing volunteers! We have people who volunteer for our programs, in our office, and even on our board. Not only do we appreciate our volunteers, but we hope that they get a lot out of volunteering for us! Anthony Frischenmeyer definitely has. Anthony is the nephew of long-time volunteer, who passed away about a year ago, Roger Frischenmeyer. Read all about Anthony's first KSYLF experience and get inspired to maybe volunteer yourself!    
by Anthony Frischenmeyer, KSYLF Volunteer 

Anthony with his KSYLF small group after graduation Waking up the day I left for my first YLF experience was exciting. I didn't know what to expect or how the week would truly change my outlook on life.  I still needed to pack and get everything ready for the week.  I went over check lists in my head and double checked them as I put the items I thought I would need in my suitcase.  Finally, I was all packed and ready to go. As I said goodbye to my kids and fiance, I knew I was going to miss home and everything I knew for a week.  I loaded my stuff and hit the road. I kept thinking of all the times I drove my uncle to Topeka and how he always was so excited to attend the Kansas Youth Leadership Forum.  I thought about the times I would pick him up and the impact it seemed to have on him and wondered if it would have the same effect on me.

Being away from my everyday life was challenging, but that soon drifted away as the delegates arrived.  I got to stand at the door and greet them as they showed up with their families.  The looks on their faces were that of not knowing.  They didn't know what to expect, as I didn't.  My nerves started to calm.  

As the forum got underway, we started going to these sessions that were designed to teach the delegates to be proud of whom they were and to be proud of their disabilities. I started to see them blossom instantly; I myself felt I was becoming more proud of who I was and of my disabilities.  In our breakout groups, we got to know each other on a more personal level, learning the struggles that we each had in our personal lives.  They were not all that different, and, no matter the age difference, we shared some of the same struggles.  As the week continued, and the more we shared and the more goals me made, I started to feel what my uncle had felt.  This was feeling the power of the Youth Leadership Forum.  

The week was long, but felt like it was over too fast.  I watched the delegates come in as anxious teens not knowing what to expect and turning into young adults who didn't want the experience to end.  There were smiles and tears and a new sense of pride as we all gathered and had the end ceremony.  We had become more than friends; we had become family in the disability community.  These young adults were leaving with so much knowledge and energy to go out and make a change for themselves and their communities.  I felt the YLF power.  I too left feeling energized to keep making change in all aspects of my life.

If you are interested in being a KSYLF volunteer this summer, visit our Upcoming KSYLF page.
We are thankful for.. .
Just a Glimpse...
Blogs and Vlogs that give us a peek into living a full life with a disability

Role models are everywhere, even on the internet. It is so important to see examples of what is possible, and the people below definitely show us just that. Check out the list of blogs and vlogs below from various people with disabilities. You will see the reality of living with a disability, but also that you can live a full life WITH a disability.
(click on each photo below to visit their blog/vlog)
Lindsey Becker
Lindsey Becker

Mallory Cyr
Mallory Cyr

Shane and Hannah
Shane and Hannah

JD Aragón
JD Aragon YouTube preview

Rikki Poynter
Rikki Poynter YouTube preview with her blowing a kiss and a heart and wheelchair

Emily Davison
Emily Davison YouTube preview with her hands in the air and the words Blind Emojis

For more bloggers and vloggers with disabilities, check out this article!
We are thankful that.. .
Each Day Brings Fresh Opportunities!
The new year is right around the corner, and we wanted to remind you that you can always start over. Each new day brings new hope and a fresh start. The always articulate Whit Downing shares her thoughts on this... and we couldn't have said it better.   
by Whit Downing, Faces of Change alumna   

A person standing in the ocean with their hands up to the sky and a sunset in the background    
Can you believe that it is already almost 2020? I can't! As a new year comes our way, we have an abundance amount of new opportunities to seize, new lessons to learn, and new victories to celebrate. However, what if I told you that you don't have to wait for a new year to come for these things to happen? Tomorrow is another day.

Whether today has been an exceptionally hard day, an extremely good day, or anything in between, there is something that we all have in common, and that is that tomorrow is a fresh start. When I think about tomorrow being a fresh start, a popular quote by Mary Radmacher comes to mind, and that is "courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow." So, let's take a moment, count to ten, breathe, and remind ourselves that we can do better tomorrow, we can be better tomorrow, and we can have a better tomorrow. No matter how things were in your life today, tomorrow is a fresh opportunity for things to be better.

Maybe you are reading this right now and are in the midst of a really tough day. Maybe thinking about making tomorrow a better day is overwhelming for you. I would like to take the time to encourage you, to validate how you feel, and to remind you that there is hope. It is okay to not be okay, and we don't have to "fix" our lives... not today, and not even tomorrow. So please, take that pressure from yourself, and remember how awesome you truly are!

No matter what, tomorrow has the possibilities of being the best day of your life! Let's believe together, let's try our best together, and last, but certainly not least, let's hope together.
Question of the Month
What are you thankful for right now?
quotation mark
I am thankful for my family, my friends, the athletic ability I have, and God who strengthens me! 
- Madison Zimmerman, KSYLF Alumna '19

My family, my husband, the blessings of every day. 
- Dayna Nichelson (Rucker), KSYLF Alumna '09

Friends, family, and everything God has blessed me with in my life. 
- Kyle Christine, KSYLF Alumni '11

Thankful for job coaches. 
- Kelly Abrahamian, Wichita youth

I'm most thankful for my family. 
- Taylor Boykin, KSYLF Alumni '08

Sleep, having breakfast, coffee, spending time with family, music, God's good grace, the fact I'm getting a college education... The list goes on, but these are a good foundation. 
- Ashlee Thao, KSYLF Alumna '17 and Faces Alumna '18

I'm thankful for my friends and family and especially my UCM Mules and Jennie's family. 
- Richard Shaver, KSYLF Alumni '14

I'm thankful for everything in my life that has shaped me into the person I am today. My friends at my church, my family, and my job. 
- Katie Horrell, KSYLF Alumna '12

I am thankful for you Carrie and I am also thankful for KSYLF. 
- Joaquin Prieto, KSYLF Alumni '19

I am thankful for my family and, of course, my amazing husband. 
- Audrea Ledesma-Anderson, KSYLF Alumna '11

I'm thankful for family, a career where I get to serve my community, and that I was able to join the YLF family. 
- Anthony Frischenmeyer, KSYLF Volunteer

I am thankful for my family who surrounds me with love everyday and my daughter, most of all, for being the best gift I've ever received, but even more so an AMAZING daycare provider to take care of my girl, just as I would, so I can do my job and reach so many others who need assistance. 
- April Rickman, KSYLF Volunteer

Peace of mind. 
- Becky Stakes, KSYLF Volunteer

quotation mark I'm thankful for this life I've been given a second chance at! 
- JD Payne, KSYLF Volunteer
Community Power!
Circle with different types of disability logos
Highlighting helpful resources throughout the state
Do you want to get more involved in the disability community and have your voice heard on various issues? You might think about joining a board! The Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas (SILCK) is looking for youth to serve on their Board. Gabe Mullen, who already serves on this board, shares below why you should get involved...

by Gabe Mullen, Faces of Change Alumni '18 and KSYLF Alumni '16      

The Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas, or SILCK, is a board of people appointed by the governor who have disabilities or are involved with disability advocacy. The main functions of SILCK are to create, monitor, and provide reports to state agencies on a Statewide Independent Living Plan (SPIL), used by the state government to regulate Centers for Independent Living, or CILs, statewide. The SPIL affects many services, such as transportation, housing, employment, and, specific to young people, youth transition and mentorship services. CILs provide these services to help people with disabilities be independent in their own communities.  SILCK does not regulate or control CILs or provide services, but, as a board of stakeholders in the disability community, it balances the power of the state in regulating CILs.

I am currently working with KYEA to recruit more young members like me. We strive to be a representative of the disability community in Kansas, including as many people from different age groups as possible. The SPIL impacts transition and mentorship programs, as well as other services that benefit and impact youth, so the involvement of young people in its creation and implementation is crucial.

The SILCK board meets once every three months. It is typically on the first Thursday of the month, from about 10:00-noon. The location varies, but, if you can't be there in person, there is always a call-in option. If appointed, a person would serve a three year term.

Outside of these meetings, the time commitment is fairly small. It varies depending on what people are asked to do, but, typically, board members spend a few hours of time every few weeks completing tasks, on average. All board members should review any information and documents that the director sends via email, and are encouraged to ask questions if they have them.

To be appointed, visit the SILCK website Membership Page, and there will be an application that you can fill out. For more information, contact the director, Kathy Cooper, at or (785) 234-6990.
SILCK Seeking Feedback For State Plan for Independent Living

What issues are important to Kansans with disabilities right now? Should they go in the SPIL Plan for this coming year? If you'd like to give your thoughts, then fill out the SILCK survey. Take the survey