Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy Newsletter
Do you have a mentor in your life? Someone who provides a consistent, supportive relationship and guides you in reaching your goals? Then, you know just how important it can be to have a mentor in one's life! We believe that mentoring is SO important. That is why we have dedicated this entire newsletter issue to mentoring!
Throughout this newsletter, you will read about the impact of mentors on the lives of youth and an adult leader in our community. You will also learn about KYEA's new and improved mentoring services, as well as other mentoring resources in our state and nation. Do you have an interest in being a mentor to someone else? We've got information about that as well! So, read on and think about how mentoring impacts your life.
We've also got lots of exciting things happening at KYEA... new staff, our fundraiser garage sale coming up, delegates have been selected for the KSYLF... there is lots to share. Summer is always busy at KYEA, and we are looking forward to an exciting one! We hope you are too! Enjoy!
- Carrie Greenwood, Program Coordinator
Meet the awesome staff who have joined our team at KYEA...
Title: Mentoring Services Specialist
Hometown: Lawrence, KS
Background: St. Louis Community College - Deaf Communication Studies, University of Kansas - Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Disability: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression, PTSD
Hobbies: Reading, spending time with my family and pets, second-hand shopping, and movie watching.
Best part about working at KYEA: The staff- I quickly felt like part of the family.
One thing that everyone needs to know about me: I am thrilled to be a part of this team, and I'm excited to be a part of the growth of the Mentoring Matters program.
Title: Program Specialist for Faces of Change
Hometown: Leedey, Oklahoma
Background: Coordinated Kansas Partners in Policymaking for 8 years with KCDD, was the Executive Director of R.I.C.O. Services, a day and residential service for adults with Intellectual Disabilities
Disability: Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, ADD
Hobbies: Singing, Arts/Crafts, Photography, Active in my church and loving my family
Best part about working at KYEA: Seeing so many truly committed in empowering and changing the lives of youth.
One thing that everyone needs to know about me: I have a hard time saying No, but I'm learning!!
Title: Therapeutic Manager
My most recent residence had been at the Helping Hands Humane Society... that is, up until my new mommy, Julia, adopted me!
Background: I have been helping people smile and feel loved for many years now. Some KYEA staff think that I used to be in the circus...
Hobbies: Dancing on my hind legs, visiting people's offices, playing with my chew toy
Best part about being at KYEA: Everyone LOVES me!! I get all kinds of attention.
One thing that everyone needs to know about me: I am the best KYEA greeter ever! Oh yeah, and I am smart enough to push doors open!
Congratulations to all of our youth and friends who have graduated or will be graduating soon! You have worked hard... be proud (we are proud of you!), enjoy your summer, and get ready for the next step in your life!
KYEA Brings the 411 on Relationships to Lawrence Youth
The Empower Me! Series "Relationships 411" participants in Lawrence gather for a group photo with the volunteers as the day comes to an end.
Twenty youth with disabilities gathered together to get the 411 on all types of relationships during our March Empower Me! Series workshop in Lawrence! KYEA partnered with Independence, Inc. to plan and host this exciting workshop. Although this was our 5th EMS workshop, this was the first time that we focused on the topic of relationships, and this topic was a hit with the youth who attended.
The "Relationships 411" workshop was held on March 5 at Independence, Inc. The 20 youth who attended were able to learn about happy, healthy relationships; sexual health; communication and conversation skills; safety in relationships; making a good impression; and much more! The participants heard from a local panel of people with disabilities who have had various types of relationships. They were able to have open, informative discussions about sexual health and safety, and heard from speakers from the Willow Domestic Violence Center, CARE Center, and Douglas Co. Health Department. They also were able to practice conversation and assertiveness skills. Participants enjoyed multiple opportunities to socialize with their peers and many friendships were formed during the workshop! The day was full of good laughs, informative discussions, and a sense of finding community.
To the youth who attended the workshop- you all were a blast, and we look forward to staying in touch! A big thank you is due to Independence, Inc. for being such wonderful, enthusiastic partners and to all of the Indy staff who helped out the day of the workshop. Another big thank you to all of the other volunteers and speakers who contributed to the day. We had great people involved in this EMS and that helped to make it such a successful workshop!
Next up for our EMS workshops... Hutchinson! Check out our next workshop below!
Next Up for EMS... Hutchinson!
How can I be successful in a job?
Can I work as a youth with a disability?
Join us for a day full of learning and fun as we answer these questions and give you the tools to be successful in employment!
Thursday, June 9
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
United Health Ministries Building
We are joining forces with Prairie Independent Living Resource Center to bring you this fun, informative workshop!
Do you need to know how to find and keep a job? Spend a day with us learning all about employment in an interactive group setting. Hear from speakers, participate in group discussions, meet other youth with disabilities, enjoy hands on activities, food, prizes, and more!
This workshop is open to youth with disabilities, ages 15-25, who live in Hutchinson or surrounding areas.
Mentor vs. Role Model
What is the real difference?
by Eliot Spielman, Mentoring Services Specialist
Over the last few months, I have learned that some individuals have a hard time differentiating between role model and mentor. No fear - I am here to clear the air. There are some large differences between being a mentor and a role model that are important to keep in mind when looking for a mentor or being a mentor.
What does it mean to mentor someone? A mentor is someone that is there for a one-on-one interaction to work with their mentees on life, work, education, etc., goals. A mentee is there to observe (similar to role model), but the relationship with their mentor will lead to discussion, progress, and evaluation. Mentors are there to guide you through transitions in your life, i.e. graduating high school or college, starting in the work force, and gaining new friendships. They are there to aid you in tasks that are considered operational; such as, work skills and social skills. With a mentor, the relationship should be mutually beneficial. Each participant (mentor and mentee) should gain awareness and skills through this relationship.
A role model is an individual that inspires you... someone you admire for their achievements and actions; someone you wish to emulate. A role model tends to be observed from a distance with whom you have possibly never had an interaction. For someone to be a role model, there does not need to be a mutual relationship. Often times, the role model is not aware that they are being looked up to. Some examples of a role model could be: a professional athlete, a music star, a teacher, or an astronaut. A role model helps form someone's aspirational goals; such as, becoming an athlete or a college professor.
These are the basic differences in a role model and a mentor. Both can have a huge impact on an individual's growth and development - just in different ways. It can be important to have both in your life.
The Impact of a Mentor:
Callie Hargett (KSYLF Alumna '05) and her mentor Maria, Dodge City
by Dallas Hathaway, Newsletter Writer
Mentors can play a huge part in helping us better understand who we are. This is exactly what happened with Callie and Maria. In 2013, Callie met Maria in church. She was facing some struggles in life, and she felt like she needed someone to talk to.
The next year, in 2014, the two traveled to a women's conference together and have communicated regularly ever since. Callie said that having a mentor has taught her how to cope with life situations. Callie also said that having a mentor has helped her to learn how to communicate better.
"Overall, having a mentor has taught me how to be a better person," said Callie.
In terms of being a mentor, Maria said that mentoring Callie has opened her eyes to problems for people in the system.
"One of the biggest struggles about being a mentor was having to play several roles such as the sister, the mom, the counselor, etc.," said Maria.
As far as advice for other mentors, Maria suggested that mentors should develop boundaries early on so that the relationship can be well established from the beginning. In other words, you do not have to be everything. Keep a good relationship and find resources to help you out along the way.
When interviewing both Callie and Maria, I could definitely tell that their relationship had blossomed over the last few years. They both certainly struggled along the way, but with guidance and understanding, they have been able to develop a friendship that will last a lifetime.
The impact on Callie is clearly seen in her own words.
Callie writes, "This wonderful person started to be a mentor in my life. I'm so grateful that God had sent her to be in my life. She is like a big sister that I never had and is a big role model in my life. I'm so glad she has pushed me to be a better person."
Read Callie and her mentor's story in her own words
Question of the Month
If you were a mentor to a young person with a disability and could give them one piece of advice, what would your advice be?
Never give up on your dreams.
- Olivia Ramirez, KSYLF Alumni '15
You are who you are despite your disability.
- Meg Sitz, KSYLF Alumna '15
Never let what other people say discourage you from following your heart.
- Nickole Donohue, KSYLF Alumna '07
Follow God and he'll do great things through you.
- Kelsey Johnson, KSYLF Alumna '14
Never be afraid to try new things. Always believe in yourself.
- Taylor Boykin, KSYLF Alumni '08
Stop planning. Things never go as planned. Keep appointments, but do not have that one year, five year, ten year plan. Then you won't be disappointed at that stage in your life. This also applies to wishing. Do not wish, just do it.
- Teresa Corbin-Lauver, Community Member
We have a unique opportunity to show the world that, when we are weak, we are strong, because God has chosen the weak things of this world to shame the strong, so that the power of Christ might rest on us!
- Tiffany Walter, KSYLF Alumni '03
It's never too late to accomplish your dreams! Write down your dream goal(s). From your goal(s), write down short term goals that will allow you to reach your long term dream goal(s)! :)
- Danielle Willcott, KSYLF Alumna '07
Always push yourself harder to fulfill your goal. If you fall, you can pick yourself up
and keep going forward even if your task is hard.
- Kyle Christine, KSYLF Alumni '11
"You don't have to have all the answers, you just have to be willing to share what you know."
News and Events
Opportunities in Kansas
- Get ready to attend one of the most exciting, informative conferences of the year! This year's
Self-Advocate Coalition of Kansas Conference
will be held June 24-26 at the Ramada Inn Downtown in Topeka. The theme for this year's conference is "Power On!" The conference is a great opportunity to learn about advocacy and meet other people with disabilities in our state. Do you often attend conferences and not always understand the topics that are covered? This conference is different... it appeals to people with all types of disabilities and all learning levels. Register before May 31 and get a lower fee.
- The Topeka Independent Living Resource Center is looking for summer interns! They are specifically looking for youth with disabilities, ages 14-18, who would like to take part in this competitive employment opportunity. The
2016 George Wolf Summer Youth Internship Program
allows interns to learn about the Independent Living Movement and actively participate in efforts toward equal treatment of people with disabilities in society.
A KU group is seeking students ages 18-22 to participate in a 15-minute survey to help develop and validate a measure of self-determination.
Are you self-determined... aka, in charge of your life?
The leaders of this survey want to find out. The exciting part is, all participants will receive a $5.00 gift card.
Take the survey
- Has health insurance made a difference in your life or your family's?
Are you among the thousands of Kansans who can't get access to quality, affordable healthcare? The Alliance for Healthy Kansas is looking for stories from Kansans with disabilities that show the importance of expanding KanCare. Sharing your story might encourage elected officials make this program more available in our state.
- Speaking of
, Kansas is preparing to renew this program, and your input and ideas are needed about the renewal and about potential changes that are being considered. Feedback sessions are taking place in different areas on May 24-26. Check out the areas and attend one to give your opinions on this program.
- Families Together is hosting an important training for Special education administrators, teachers, and parents of youth with disabilities. This training, titled
"Advanced Special Education for Parents and Providers,"
will cover topics like education rights for students with disabilities, working as a team, discipline procedures, placement, and more. The workshop will take place on June 10 in Topeka.
Read more and register
Opportunities on a National Level
Do you want to take your advocacy skills to the next level as a youth with a disability? Then consider attending the
ADAPT Youth Summit
! The 2016 ADAPT Youth Summit will take place in Rochester, New York from August 5-9. ADAPT specializes in training young people with disabilities on direct action and nonviolent civil disobedience. Participants must be between the ages of 18 and 30.
Are you pursuing a communications or media degree? Check out the
NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship
. The American Association of People with Disabilities is offering eight of these scholarships that provide $5,625 for tuition and fees at a college or university. The scholarship is open to 2nd year associate students; undergraduate sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and graduate students with disabilities who are pursuing communications or media-related degrees.
- Calling All Youth with Disabilities and Allies: Share Your Ideas on Transition!
Are you a young person with a disability or a youth ally of the disability community? There is an important conversation going on about what youth with disabilities (ages 13-25) need to become successful adults, and some national organizations need to hear from you! The YouthACT Transition Truths National Online Dialogue will take place from Thursday, May 19 until Sunday, May 22, 2016. This online conversation will give you the opportunity to share your ideas on the strategies and supports that can help youth with disabilities and their peers become successful adults.
Learn more and register
- Registration is now open for the
2016 National Council on Independent Living Annual Conference
! If you like attending conferences focused on advocacy, independent living, and disability topics, then this is the conference for you. And they have many youth attending and involved in the planning! This year's conference will be July 25-28 in Washington, DC.
Learn more and register
RESOURCES! Adapted Vehicle Funding
Are you in need of an accessible vehicle, but can't afford it? Check out these two great resources...
-- a national wheelchair van assistance program for children and adults. They solicit donations of adapted vehicles and distribute them to individuals and families in need throughout the US.
Visit their website
Ralph Braun Foundation
-- works nationally to provide vehicle modification grants to individuals with disabilities in need of financial assistance. If you are an individual or family member in need of the remaining funds to secure your purchase, check out this great Foundation.
Visit their website
- If you are a
parent with a disability, the Disabled Parenting Project wants to talk with you about your experiences! Specifically, they are seeking parents willing to share their stories. Video interviews will be posted on the Disabled Parenting Project's website for others to learn from. You will even get a $50 Amazon gift card.
Sharing all things new in our KYEA world...
Fundraiser Garage Sale Right Around the Corner!
It's garage sale time! Yes, that's right, the KYEA Fundraiser Garage and Bake Sale is right around the corner. Here are the details:
KYEA Garage a
nd Bake Sale
Saturday, June 4
8 am to 2 pm
KYEA Parking Lot
(517 SW 37th St. in Topeka)
Do you have items that you would like to donate? We are in need of garage and bake sale items. Garage sale items can be dropped off at our office any time before the end of the month. We accept anything except for clothes and shoes. Bake sale items, including cookies, pies, cakes, breads, cupcakes, etc, will need to be dropped off the week of the garage sale.
You can also support KYEA by coming to the sale! We will have lots of items available including technology, furniture, games and toys, home décor, and much more! If you are not into garage sale items, stop by for a sweet treat! All proceeds from the garage sale and bake sale will come directly to support KYEA programs that empower youth with disabilities in our state. We hope to see you there!
Delegates Selected for 2016 Kansas Youth Leadership Forum
The Kansas Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities (KSYLF) is gearing up for its sixteenth annual program. Twenty-one motivated young leaders have been selected to attend the 2016 forum. This year's KSYLF will be held July 12 - 16 at Washburn University in Topeka.
The selected delegates will enjoy a week full of learning, fun, friends, and, most of all, a new sense of empowerment! The delegates will participate in large and small group sessions, a barbecue with adapted recreation, a Day at the Capital, Mentor Luncheon, resource fairs, talent show, and a dance.
A diverse group of delegates were selected to attend the 2016 KSYLF, including students from a variety of cities in Kansas with a wide range of disabilities. Read the full press release for a list of selected delegates.
Want to give back to KSYLF? Donate!
Do you love the Kansas Youth Leadership Forum? Maybe you can't commit your whole week to volunteering, but you want to help in some way. Guess what? You can!
We are currently seeking in kind donations for the KSYLF, including:
- great backpack giveaways and goodies
- dance prizes
- candy, snacks, and drinks for delegates and staff
- coupons for attendees
- supplies for small groups
- anything that you would like to give! If you have something to donate, we'll find a way to use it!
Companies and organizations are also more than welcome to donate. Read the list above and think about what you can contribute. To donate, contact Carrie at email@example.com or 785-215-6655.
Remembering Catherine Kelly Baird... the co-founder of Youth Leadership Forums!
Our KS Youth Leadership Forum has changed the lives of 363 youth with disabilities in our state. This program would not have been possible, though, without the passion and hard work of Catherine Kelly Baird who co-founded the very first YLF in California. Because of Catherine's work, YLF programs have been created in over 30 states, impacting 1000's of young leaders with disabilities. Catherine recently passed away, but we will forever be grateful that she brought the YLF vision to life, making it possible for us to bring it to Kansas.
Read more about Catherine
Learn more about the legacy of Catherine Kelly Baird in this memorial video.
"One good mentor can be more informative than a college education and more valuable than a decade's income." -- Sean Stephenson
KYEA Builds New and Improved Mentoring Services
by Eliot Spielman, Mentoring Services Specialist
Here at KYEA, we are thrilled to be able to offer mentoring services to youth with disabilities in Kansas. Mentoring Matters, as it continues to grow, will be able to offer our youth a menu of mentoring and job shadowing opportunities. Our immediate focus will be placed on career-focused mentoring opportunities. If a youth is interested in a particular career path, we are here to find a proper mentor match for them so they can learn what it means to be a professional and what expectations come with being a professional.
As the Mentoring Matters program grows, we will offer the opportunity for mentees to have mentors to guide them through social situations. Some youth might like a mentor that works with them on gaining/maintaining friendships; others want to learn ways to interact socially. We will help find mentors to guide youth in all of these areas. We also look forward to offering job shadowing opportunities so youth are able to see what it looks like to work in different fields of interest. A youth will be able to request to job shadow as many times as they like.
Be on the lookout for more information about all of these services on our website and in future newsletters!
Rosie Speaks... the Importance of Mentoring
From the perspective of one of our fearless leaders
If you have been involved with KYEA in the past, then you probably know Rosie Cooper. Rosie has been our staff facilitator for the KSYLF for 15 years and currently serves as the Treasurer on the KYEA Board of Directors. Rosie has been a mentor to many of us, but did you know that she has had many mentors of her own over the years? Rosie shares how mentors have impacted her life and the importance of mentoring for all people...
In your opinion, what are the qualities of an effective mentor?
I believe a good mentor is an
active listener. They must be a
believer in their mentees' capabilities to achieve. A good mentor is also a
truth "sayer" who gives that other point of view for a person to think about. Finally, they must be a
cheerleader to support the mentee when times are tough.
Who were your mentors in the past?
I will share my number one mentor who came from my radio background. Jack Sampson was the owner and he saw things in me that I could not see. When we were going to hire a copywriter and I expressed interest, he ordered the program director to give me the job; and we wrote many very successful ad campaigns as a result. Jack mentored by demonstration, such as how to treat people who worked for you and to believe in their potential rather than watching for a mistake to be made.
Who are your current mentors?
I have many mentors, but my dear friend Leslie Kveaton has been my mentor for over 30 years and, oddly enough, I am probably one of her mentors as well. In fact, if I think about all the people I would call my mentor, the relationship goes both ways. Sometimes they mentor me and sometimes I mentor them.
What impact has mentoring had on your professional and personal life?
It has helped me to not be afraid to take on any new challenge or project.
What have you learned from your mentors?
To believe in people!
What one nugget of wisdom could you share that could benefit youth with disabilities?
Treasure the mistakes more than the successes, because they will teach the real lessons in life.
How do youth with disabilities benefit from being mentored?
It is easy to believe that, because your family and friends have to be your cheerleader, nothing they say is 100% true. Now, along comes this mentor who might say the same things, but, because you believe them, you begin to believe in yourself.
What does a more formalized mentoring relationship provide vs. just a friendship?
I believe the formal relationships lead into lifelong friendships.
So you want to be a mentor...
It is hugely important to have mentors in your life, but do you realize that you can BE A MENTOR as well? Think about all of the younger kids out there who could use a supportive person in their life... maybe someone who has a disability and can be an example of what is possible. Youth CAN be mentors! If you feel like you would be a good role model and have extra time to commit to a formal mentoring relationship, then go for it! You might just make a difference in someone's life!
Check out the tips and resources below to get you started...
12 Ways to Be an Amazing Mentor
1) Approach each mentorship differently.
2) Set expectations together in the very beginning.
3) Take a genuine interest in your mentee as a person.
4) Know when to wait before giving advice.
5) Improve your emotional intelligence.
6) Don't assume anything about your mentee -- ask.
7) Be really forthcoming about mistakes you've made.
8) Celebrate their achievements.
9) Give more than you ask for.
10) Seek out classes or projects related to skills your mentee wants to develop.
11) Solve for the long-term.
12) Lead by example.
*Taken from "How to Be an Amazing Mentor: 12 Ways to Make a Positive Impact on Others."
Check out these state and national resources for mentoring!
Interested in being a mentor, finding a mentor, or maybe just learning more about mentoring in general? We've got resources for you! Browse through these organizations for mentoring information and to learn how you can get involved:
Yep, that's right! If you are a youth with a disability in Kansas and want to get or be a mentor, WE can be your first stop. Read all about our new and improved mentoring services in the article above!
The go-to place for mentoring in Kansas! This initiative brings together all of the mentoring programs in our state.
This is a national site with all the information you need about what mentoring is and why it is important. You can even search for a mentor in your area or sign up to be a mentor yourself!
This organization isn't in Kansas, but their website has really helpful resources on mentoring and some fact sheets on all kinds of disabilities. Check out some of their inspiring stories about mentoring!
This organization serves youth up to age 18 with topics like health, education and leadership... they want you to reach your full potential! Some locations even have a teen center. To find your local Boys and Girls club, visit the link above.
If you are looking to be a mentor, this might be a good option for you. This organizations pairs youth up with supportive adults in their community. Contact your local location to learn more.
Did you know that you can find a mentor through the internet? From support for those transitioning to college to others who are interested in working with computers, there are mentoring opportunities waiting for you. Use this document to find the mentoring program that is right for you.
If you live in the Manhattan area and are in 7-11 grade, this weekly teen meeting might be for you!
This is state-wide, and the best part is that it is free. Working with youth 8-18, this after school club can fill your time with clubs, camping or after-school activities, and the opportunity to spend time with a mentor.
Highlighting centers for independent living throughout the state
Independence, Inc., Lawrence
Johnna Godinez, KYEA Program Assistant, gets the lowdown on how Independence, Inc. serves youth with disabilities in the Lawrence area!
I am so thrilled to write to you about my "home" Center for Independent Living (CIL), Independence, Inc. I feel strongly, even today, that this CIL had a large part in helping me adjust to my new disability at the age of 25 and become a leader with a disability.
So, here are the facts... Independence Inc. is located in Lawrence (2001 Haskell Avenue). Like most CIL's, they assist people with disabilities by connecting them to services and helping them develop skills to support their independence. Independence, Inc. offers independent living skills training, transportation, information, and advocacy. They serve Douglas, Jefferson, and Franklin counties in Northeastern Kansas. This CIL has a staff of twelve people.
Independence, Inc. has many youth programs! They host Disability Mentoring Day, the Youth Employment Program (YEP), and transitional services focused on life-skills designed for the journey to adulthood. YEP is an eighty hour paid community-based job trial experience that has been around since 2008. Independence, Inc. has experienced over twenty years of strong partnership with local schools and has served on the local transition board since 1997. At least twice a year, youth in local transition programs, including Project Search, are invited to the center to take a tour and hear a presentation. Staff have worked alongside many youth and have provided advocacy for the youth during their IEP process.
If you live in the Lawrence area and would like to learn more about Independence Inc., contact Ranita Wilks, the youth services contact, at (785) 841-0333 ext. 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about this CIL by visiting www.independenceinc.org.
CIL Job Opening!
Topeka Independent Living Resource Center
Position: Financial Management Services Support Position
Details: This well-established not-for-profit human and civil rights organization is seeking a support position for Medicaid service programs. Qualified candidates must have a high school diploma or GED. Applicants must be proficient with Word, Excel, data entry, filing, responding to inquiries, and processing paperwork. This is a full-time position. Person with a disability preferred.
Send cover letter, resume and three professional references to:
Attn: Evan Korynta
501 SW Jackson St., Ste. 100
Topeka, KS 66603
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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 coming 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 or more interesting to you, please call us at 785-215-6655 so we can make the change for next time.
Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy