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

Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy Newsletter
Issue #32
June 2015
in this issue
:: Behind Julia's Glasses
:: Empower Me! Series Travels to Parsons
:: Chiefs Tickets Fundraiser
:: Get a Motivational T-shirt: Support KYEA!
:: State and National Opportunities
:: Faces of Change Extends Deadline
:: KSYLF Selects 20 Delegates
:: KYEA Award Nominations
:: KS Disability Caucus is Back!

a blue ocean with sun and palm trees in the back
It's summer!! You know what that means for KYEA? Crazy busy times! At this very moment, we are deep in planning for our 2015 Kansas Youth Leadership Forum. Programs are being made, mentors are being recruited, group boxes are being put together... yes, it's definitely YLF season!

Because we have so much going on right now, you are receiving a "mini" version of our newsletter. This issue is still full of information and opportunities. We thought that we would take the chance to update you on all of our exciting programs and fundraisers! There are also lots of state and national opportunities available right now. AND... a very exciting event is coming back to our state! Read all about it below.

We hope that you are having a wonderful summer! As always, thank you for your support of the work that we do at KYEA!

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

Do you believe in evolution?  Hopefully by the time you get to the end of my article, you will be a believer.  That is, the evolution that happens in our lives and around us every day... what did you think I meant when I said evolution? :)

Through my eyes, the word evolution means change.  For example, KYEA began as a program (KSYLF) and has evolved into an organization with several amazing programs for youth across the state to participate in.  Carrie began as a 2001 KSYLF delegate and has evolved into our full time Program Coordinator.  Johnna started as a volunteer in 2001 and now is our Program Assistant. This past year, there has been lots of evolution in my life.  In December and January, I had my eyes removed (due to pain) and on August 21st, I will be receiving prosthetic eyes in the color of hazel, although I was born a brown eyed girl!  On July 6th, my step dad will officially be my dad through legal adoption, so I will have a new last name (Connellis). 

When it comes down to it, evolution is about change, whether it is a big change or a small change.  Take some time today to think about how you have evolved through the years.  Are you happy with who you are today?  Are there any changes you would like to see happen in your life?  Go to our Facebook page and share with us how you have evolved through the years!
Empower Me! Series Travels to Parsons for Workshop 


EMS workshop participants and volunteers in Parsons pose for a group photo.


Six youth from the southeast part of the state recently learned all about employment during KYEA's Empower Me! Series (EMS) workshop! Parsons was the third stop for this new program that is taking KYEA on the road.

KYEA partnered up with SKIL Resource Center for this one day workshop, held June 4, for youth with disabilities entitled "Now Hiring." Attendees learned all about how to be successful in employment. They heard from a panel of people with disabilities who are working, explored their own talents and job interests, wrote their own resume, experienced a mock job interview, enjoyed some role playing that demonstrated soft skills in the workplace, and heard a presentation on communication and advocacy. The attendees also filled out their very own Individual Empowerment Plan focused on long and short term job goals. The day was complete with fun moments, giveaways, great food, and opportunities to meet other youth with disabilities.

KYEA has been to three different cities with the Empower Me! Series, and, while we had a smaller group in Parsons, the day was no less impactful and fun! The youth who attended opened up throughout the day and showed growth even in this one-day workshop. A big thanks to all of the youth who attended! We are excited to welcome these six youth into the KYEA family!

Also, a huge thanks to SKIL Resource Center for partnering with us, helping throughout the planning process, and to the staff members who helped out at the workshop... we appreciate you!

Our Empower Me! Series has been a hit across the state! We plan to continue this program in the new fiscal year and will pick three new areas to hold workshops. Want us to come to your area? Let us know!
Get Chiefs Tickets and Support KYEA!

Kansas City Chiefs football tickets are here!  KYEA is selling tickets for two preseason games. A portion of proceeds go towards supporting KYEA programs and services. The games available are:

* August 21st vs. Seattle Seahawks
* August 28th vs Tennessee Titans

Seats for both games are in lower level section 109 row 35. All  tickets are $35 with KYEA earning $10 per ticket. Tickets are going fast, so get yours today!

For tickets or any questions, please contact Julia at or call our office at 785-215-6655.  Thank you for supporting programs for Kansas youth with disabilities!
Motivational T-shirts Available! Get Yours Today!

I am ABLE. I am STRONG. I am PROUD. I am ENOUGH! Do you like one of our past KSYLF slogans? Maybe you would like an Empower Me shirt or a Disabled and Proud shirt. KYEA has 15 years worth of program t-shirts, and we are now making them available to you!

We are selling many of our extra shirts and have a wide variety of colors, designs, and sizes to choose from. All t-shirt sales go to support our programs within KYEA.

Slogans include:
  • 1 VOICE can be heard! 1 GROUP can make an impact! 1 COMMUNITY can change the world!
  • I am ABLE. I am STRONG. I am PROUD. I am ENOUGH!
These are just to name a few. Contact KYEA at 785-215-6655 for a full list and to purchase a shirt.
News and Events


Opportunities in Kansas


- Are you a consumer who has KanCare? Do you have concerns or feedback about how the KanCare program is working for you? The National Council on Disability is coming to Kansas and they want to hear about your experiences. They will be holding a public hearing on July 7 at the State Capital in Topeka. If you would like to speak, you must sign up. Learn more

- Want to experience some summer fun at the lake? Check out the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City's "A Day at the Lake" to experience the thrill of adaptive water skiing, kayaking, and boating on Smithville Lake on July 10. Participants must have a spinal cord injury or disability. Learn more 


- The Kansas Disability Caucus is back!! Read related article to the right...


Opportunities on a National Level


- Are you a youth, age 12-25, who wants to develop leadership and advocacy skills and become a leader in your community who improves leadership opportunities and transition services for all youth? If so, apply for the Youth Action Council on Transition (YouthACT)! YouthACT is a national initiative to get more youth with disabilities involved as leaders who partner with organizations to improve youth transition out comes.The application deadline is July 14, 2015. Learn more

- Do you have something to say about how the ADA has impacted your life? The Institute for Educational Leadership is collecting stories from youth of the ADA Generation and their allies about what the ADA means to them. These stories will be published on the IEL website and shared through social media. Stories can be in written, graphic, or video form. Submissions are due by July 1, 2015. Learn more

- Many youth with disabilities are participating in volunteer experiences this summer. If this is you, then you need to know about the Summer of Creativity Grant! Winners receive a $500 grant to help make a lasting, positive change in the world. This grant will go towards youth-led projects that highlight the creativity and commitment of young people working to meet the needs of others. The deadline to apply is August 10, 2015. Learn more

- NEW WEBSITE! Check out this great new website focused on transition for youth with disabilities. The site is complete with youth stories, videos, resources, and more! Check it out at

- Would you like to honor an outstanding contributor to the youth transition field? The DCDT is accepting nominations for multiple awards given to people who help students with disabilities in the transition years. Nominations are due by September 15, 2015. Learn more

The Kessler Foundation is conducting a national survey focusing on employment issues for working age adults with disabilities. The survey focuses on things that assist people with disabilities to work, as well as challenges faced. Want to share your experiences? Then fill out the survey!


- Students with visual or hearing disabilities can now access free video-on-demand children's programs. All programs are described and captioned. View the list of titles 

"The only real limitation on your abilities is the level of your desires. If you want it badly enough, there are no limits on what you can achieve."
-- Brian Tracy
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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 August!
Thanks for reading our newsletter this month! Learn more about KYEA, and consider donating, 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 to you, please call us at 785-215-6655 so we can make the change for next time.

Carrie Greenwood
Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy

Faces of Change Extends Application Deadline  

Faces of Change logoHave you sent in your application for KYEA's Faces of Change? If not, we have good news: the deadline for Faces applications has been extended to July 1st!

We want YOU to be a part of this high level leadership program! This seven month program, with meetings once a month in Topeka, is a great opportunity for you to take your leadership skills have up a few notches! Faces is highly focused on leadership through community service and personal development. Participants will develop their skills through many activities, including:
  • Hearing from speakers on a variety of leadership topics
  • Learning what their personal leadership style is
  • Talking to and meeting other youth who have similar interests
  • Create their own Community Change Project
  • Implementing their project within their own community
  • Gaining presentation skills
  • Engaging in discussions with youth and adults from across the state
  • Creating friendships with other youth with disabilities in Kansas
Participants get all of this knowledge and fun for FREE if selected for this program! If you fit the requirements below, apply for this program today!
  • Must be between the ages of 16 and 22.
  • Must have a disability or special healthcare need (as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act).
  • Must live in the state of Kansas.
  • Must have exhibited leadership skills (formal and informal use of these skills is accepted).
This is an opportunity you won't want to miss! All applications and necessary paperwork must be postmarked by JULY 1, 2015. The application can be found at, or feel free to pick one up at the KYEA office. If you have any questions, contact the Faces of Change Coordinator at or by calling (785) 215-6655.
KS Youth Leadership Forum Selects 20 Youth Leaders!

KSYLF dove logo The Kansas Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities (KSYLF) is gearing up for its fifteenth annual program. Twenty motivated young leaders have been selected to attend the 2015 forum. This year's KSYLF will be held July 14 - 18 at Washburn University in Topeka.

The theme for this year's forum will be "LEAD: Do It With Purpose!" Participants will learn the importance of not just leading as a young person with a disability, but having a true purpose behind that leadership. Delegates will learn that leadership is not about being in the spotlight, but rather having the motivation to make a change within their own lives and the lives of others. They will explore their reason for wanting to be a leader, as well as their individual abilities and experiences that contribute to their leadership potential. Ultimately, the delegates will be encouraged to make a difference as leaders in their communities and in our state.

A diverse group of delegates were selected to attend the 2015 KSYLF, including students from a variety of cities in Kansas with a wide range of disabilities.

Read the full press release 
KYEA Seeking Award Nominations 
Nominate an accomplished youth, mentor, or champion for youth!

Nominations DUE by JULY 3! 

Justin Cosco The Justin Cosco Scholarship Award is given out every year to a KS Youth Leadership Forum alumni who has demonstrated progress toward their goals and growth as a leader. The award began in 2004, but was renamed in 2007 after the death of an alumni of the first KSYLF, Justin Cosco. In order to receive the award, nominees must be an alumni from the KSYLF years of 2001-2013 and must have demonstrated achievements since their time as a delegate. If you know an alumni who has grown since their time as a delegate, then consider nominating them!
Alumni can either nominate themselves or be nominated by someone else.

Learn more

Mentoring Matters logo Mentors really DO matter! Mentors can make a huge difference in someone's life. This is especially true when it comes to youth with disabilities. A good mentor can expose a young person to new opportunities, motivate them to follow through on their goals, encourage them to focus on their abilities, make them feel like they are not alone, and more. KYEA wants to recognize those individuals in our state who have made a difference serving as a mentor to a youth with a disability. Who do you know that fits this description?

Nominees must have past or present experience with mentoring youth with disabilities in a short or long term relationship. This could include one-on-one mentoring, job shadowing, group mentoring, or e-mentoring.

Learn more

John Peterson Do you know someone who has a true belief in the potential and abilities of youth with disabilities? There are people all over this state who are champions for young people with disabilities... they promote the contributions of youth and have a passion for empowering our next generation. This award celebrates people from all walks of life that recognize the potential and worth of youth with disabilities in our state.

Nominees must have demonstrated a consistent belief in youth with disabilities (ages 5-25) for at least one year. Examples could include being a volunteer at KYEA, involvement in another youth program, actively sharing a message, etc.
This award was created in honor of KYEA friend, John Peterson.

Learn more

It's BACK! Kansas Disability Caucus to be Held in August!  

Caucus 15 logo- ADA 25, Igniting the Fire

The Kansas Disability Caucus is back!! Don't miss the largest gathering of the disability community in our state!

Check out the details:

Kansas Disability Caucus
August 13-14, 2015
Ramada Inn Downtown, Topeka

The Caucus serves as a two-day conference where people with disabilities and our allies come together to learn, share, and have fun! Attendees will experience informational breakout sessions, Caucus sessions to share about major issues facing Kansans with disabilities and solutions, free time to network and meet people, a keynote speaker, awards banquet, and more. The theme for this year is "ADA 25: Igniting the Fire!" People with all types of disabilities, of any age, representing every county of the state, are invited to attend. We would love to see a large turnout of youth in our state!

To attend, you must register. Don't delay though... registration forms are due by July 6, 2015.

View the registration form