KYEA: Educating, mentoring, and supporting youth with disabilities in KS
Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy Newsletter
Issue #59
April 2022
Hello friends! Our goal with each of our newsletters is for them to be interesting, exciting, youth-friendly, and informative. Every now and then, a topic comes along that we just feel the need to cover. This month, it is body image. While this a very serious topic, it is one that is constantly affecting our youth, and everyone, frankly. Read on to learn what body image is, how it can affect you, how you can improve yours, and many stories from people who have had a journey with their body image.

Also in this newsletter is updates on KYEA and other exciting opportunities! There is lots to read, so go for it!
Happy to Be Me sign
Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy logo


Summer is right around the corner, and we all know what that means... the Kansas Youth Leadership Forum is coming!!! BUT, not before we do a bunch of other things at KYEA, like host more Empower Me! Workshops, reach out to the community through our exciting GIG events, and more! Read on for all of the details...
Employment Awareness Spreads Across the State Through Empower Me! Workshops with Pre-ETS

Our Empower Me! Workshops are going strong, and our collaboration with Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) continues to be a very positive partnership. More and more youth are learning about employment each month through these virtual workshops. Since January, we have served 55 youth through these workshops… and what a blast that we are having with them!

Below is a recap of each virtual workshop:

January Workshop: We met some really great youth at this workshop that was held January 25 and 26! Nineteen youth from across the state were in attendance.
The youth participants at the January Empower Me! Workshop take a screen shot photo on Zoom.
February Workshop: Ten awesome youth attended our February workshop to learn about employment. It was held on February 22 and 23.
The youth participants of the February Empower Me! Workshop take a screen shot photo on Zoom.
March Workshop: Our March workshop was one of the most fun and interactive that we have had so far! Ten youth attended this workshop that was held March 29 and 30.
Participants of the March Empower Me! Workshop take a screen shot group photo on Zoom.
April Workshop: We had 16 great youth attend our most recent workshop. This one was held on April 19 and 20.
Participants of the April Empower Me! Workshop take a screen shot group photo on Zoom.
With each workshop, we learn and grow. KYEA staff have really enjoyed getting to meet and empower so many youth across our state! Thanks to all of the youth who have attended! We look forward to seeing all of you in the future. And, as always, a big thank you to the Pre-ETS staff who assist with these workshops… we appreciate you!

We have one more virtual Empower Me! Workshop before we take a break over the summer. We have already been discussing plans for the new year, and, guess what? We might see some in-person workshops in our future! Stay tuned for more details…
Volunteers take a picture with a delegate and are smiling
KSYLF logo with dove
Seeking Volunteers for 2022 KS Youth Leadership Forum!

The 2022 Kansas Youth Leadership Forum is going to be here before we know it, and we will be back in person! So, we need quality, enthusiastic volunteers to help out for the week! Do you like working with high school students with disabilities? Do you have the skills and passion to facilitate groups and motivate young adults with disabilities? Then we need you!

We seek committed, enthusiastic people who are willing to devote a week to this great program. Yes, we realize that a week is a big commitment, but you will not regret it, we promise! Just ask any of our past volunteers who have been changed by this program.

The 2022 KSYLF will be held on July 11-16 at Washburn University in Topeka. Volunteers can be KSYLF alumni, past volunteers, or anyone in our state who is over age 18. Our volunteer application deadline has been extended to MAY 6. Apply to serve as a volunteer today!

Madonna- a fluffy white poodle wearing a pink and purple bow
Madonna's Corner!

Our therapeutic manager has something to say about body image too! Check it out...

Readers Note: A () represents the English translation of Madonna’s words. A (*) describes what her body is doing.

Have you ever felt like just biting someone?? I have felt this way a lot since we last barked (talked). Mom (Julia) has been keeping me warm this winter by letting my hair grow. So, I have been showing off my MoFro (short for Madonna Afro) for all to see! *wagging tail* I wuv (love) when mom uses the stick with teeth (brush) and puts it through my hair. After, it gets big and poofy, which means I am easier for all to see. *lips pulled back in a smile with teeth showing* But, every time I leave the dog house (home), my 2-legged friends say I need a haircut and I am fat. It makes me sad. *laying down with head on floor and paws covering eyes crying* I then get angry and want to bite someone! *bites her blanket and shakes it hard while growling* Instead of biting, I curl up on mom’s lap and cuddle. She whispers in my ear that I am a pretty girl and she wuvs (loves) me. I give her a big lick on the nose and am happy again! *tail wagging* Mom makes me feel like I am top dog and that’s all I need. My friends, just remember, you are top dog too no matter how big your hair or body is!

Have a wagulous (fabulous) day!

body image :

The perception that a person has of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings that result from that perception.

in other words...

The relationship that you have with your body.

How do you feel about your body?

Do you like it or dislike it?

If you have had struggles in this area, you are not alone! Just keep reading... you'll see what we mean.
Five females of different races lined up and staring straight ahead with no expression
Shane smiling with his mouth wide open and taking a picture with a female family member

Spotlight On: Youth with Disabilities Embracing Disability and More!

Shane Lewis

by Dallas Hathaway, Faces Alumni and KYEA Board President

According to the National Organization for Women, 50% of teens are “self-conscious” about their bodies. If you look around, chances are you will notice references to body image. Everything from television to magazines, and dieting to exercise equipment. Our bodies are a big deal, and how we feel and think about our bodies may be an even bigger deal. Shane Lewis, KSYLF and Faces of Change alumni, spoke with me about his experiences with body image. Throughout our discussion, we talked about how Shane felt about his life as a person with cerebral palsy. Shane is currently a freshman at the University of Central Missouri.

As a child, Shane believed that having a physical disability was a bad thing. He described how others would look at him and make comments about his appearance. As a result, Shane didn’t get the same treatment as other children. At one point, he believed he was not attractive because of his disability. Additionally, we discussed how others pitied him. Shane’s mindset changed, however, as he got older.

“I decided to embrace my disability instead of shaming it,” he said.

Shane and I discussed how societal expectations have an impact on other’s perceptions of body image. The images we see every day impact our thoughts and feelings about the world. When I asked him what helped shift his mindset, he talked about how others began to accept him, and he was able to get out of his own way when it came to his thoughts and feelings about his body.

“I began to pay more attention to my health, and less about what others thought,” he said.

Shane told me a story about how a little kid asked him why he was using crutches. Shane explained he needed them for mobility. He went on to say that parents have previously redirected their children from asking about his disability, as they feel it is rude or disrespectful.

“We, as a society, need to let kids ask questions,” he said. “This can help shape children’s views of people with disabilities and can help them work through their curiosities.”

At the conclusion of Shane’s conversation with the child, they wanted to know if they could use his crutches. This seemingly insignificant encounter turned into a teaching moment for the child.

As Shane and I finished our conversation, I asked him about what improvements he would make to how body image is portrayed in society. He talked about how he would have more realistic marketing and advertisements with average-sized bodies. Finally, I asked Shane what advice he would give to someone who has challenges with their body.

“Remember that everyone is different and that your body is yours,” he said. “You should not let others dictate how you feel.”

Thank you, Shane, for sharing your story with me and allowing me to learn more about you. Your personality shines through your wisdom and experience. At the end of the day, we all have bodies, and each of them is unique. If you are struggling with body image, don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek support from others.
Rondalee with a very happy expression on her face
The Price of Perfectionism
The Journey from Battling an Eating Disorder to Finding Peace
by Rondalee Winship, KSYLF Alumna '18

Rondalee Winship has quite a story to tell. She has been on a journey of learning to accept and love herself for many years and has finally come to a place of peace. We want to thank Rondalee for being so honest and open, and ultimately inspiring us to do this newsletter issue. Keep reading to hear her story of true strength...

To share my story about struggling with body image is to show you the depths of my fear, anxiety, and brokenness, but it's also to show you the joy, peace, and the freedom I’ve found in letting go. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a perfectionist: constantly checking to see if I measured up, wondering if I was good enough. I felt pressure to compensate for having a disability by working harder so that I could “keep up” with those around me. This need to be perfect manifested itself into my being an overachiever: straight As, varsity cheerleader, involved in student government and National Honor Society. On the outside, I kept earning, kept achieving, and looked like nothing could stop me, but on the inside, I felt incredibly broken.

The same insecurity and fears that led me to work so hard also contributed to my struggling with an eating disorder for over six years throughout high school and into college. It’s important to acknowledge that trauma and abuse also played a significant role in my mental health, but that’s a story for another time and place. Every time I looked in the mirror, I hated what I saw. I despised the girl looking back at me.
Kirstianna standing at a bridge railing with her arms out in the air and a big smile on her face
Learning to Love Yourself and All of Who You Are
by Kirstianna Guerrero, KSYLF Alumni '19 and Faces of Change Alumna '20

How do we learn to accept and love exactly who we are? Kirstianna Guerrero has some advice for us. Check it out!

So… Body Image: is it just taking a picture of ourselves? Well, as much as that is fabulous… No! It’s all about seeing yourself as you are with the lens of love.

Isn’t it amazing that, in a world full of people, no one person looks the same as another? We are all wonderfully different. Which means there is no way to find a picture to fit into and, instead of spending our time comparing to some generic image, we can simply look at ourselves and know that is all we need to be.

But, venturing further than just our outer shells into embracing all of who we are- physical selves, mental health, personality, passions, support systems, beliefs, accommodations- everything that comes to be a part of us as we seek life each day has the opportunity to be seen with love.

The beauty in this truth is that, loving all of who you are doesn’t make you full of yourself. I see it as being fully yourself, because, when you live unashamed with the freedom of joy, you come alive in everyday life, impacting others with authenticity.

So, let’s go for it! Let's see ourselves! Our bodies, alongside all the equipment we may need to function in this world! You are here, and, with all that you are, you are awesome! Woooohoooo!
Thesaurus and dictionary and encyclopedia
What Does That Mean?
Important Definitions Related to Body Image
When it comes to our body image, there are a lot of words that you may not know what they mean. See below for some definitions of words related to this topic:

A mental image of something.

How someone thinks about and evaluates themselves. Closely related to self-perception.

Body dysmorphia
A mental health condition in which you can't stop thinking about one or more differences or flaws about your appearance — a flaw that appears minor or can't be seen by others. Having a negative view of your appearance does not automatically mean that you have body dysmorphia.

Body shame
Mocking or making critical comments about the shape, size, or appearance of someone's body.

The need to be or appear to be perfect.

A mark of disgrace (lack of respect for) associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.
Russell Lehmann speaking at a podium
Speaker, Author, Poet, and Advocate, Russell Lehmann, Speaks Out About Body Image
Interview by Brian Gano, KSYLF Alumni '04

At first glance, you might think that Russell Lehmann has had a perfect life with no struggles. You definitely wouldn't imagine that he has ever had low confidence in his body. But, Russell, like many others in our world, used to struggle with his body image and even had an eating disorder at one time. Recently, our KSYLF alumni, Brian Gano, got the chance to interview this awesome speaker/poet/advocate who currently lives in California. Brian and Russell talked about everything from Russell's body image journey to how we can empower each other as people with disabilities.

Watch the interview below to understand that anyone can struggle with their body image AND work through this challenge.

Thank you, Russell, for openly sharing your story and helping others to not feel alone!
View the transcript of this video interview.
This is Real Life: Adults with Disabilities in Kansas Share Their Journey with Body Image
Oftentimes, we don't realize how many people struggle with their body image. Being different is not always celebrated in our society. The truth is that we are all different... we were not meant to be one size, shape, color, etc. But, society often tells us otherwise. We reached out to various adults with disabilities in our state to ask them about their body image journeys and how this has changed over time. Keep reading to see that you are not alone and that many have struggled to fit the "perfect mold." Thank you to everyone who shared honestly and openly about their experiences... we appreciate you.
Jessica Calderon with her husband and two children
Jessica Calderon

Age: 27
City: Emporia
Disability: Spastic Hemiplegia Cerebral Palsy

First and foremost, I think it’s very natural and common for people to have struggles with their body image. As for myself, I have struggles about my body both regarding my disability and some that have nothing to do with my Cerebral Palsy.

My life-long struggle is the way I walk, my posture, and my spastic arm. I am reminded that my walking is unusual to most when I either see myself walking in a video recording, see myself in a reflection, or the thousands of stares I get in public. This struggle is a daily struggle; however, when I feel myself feeling this way, and I encourage you to remind yourself of this if you feel this way, I remind myself that “I am loved for how I am by the most important people in my life. Stranger’s opinions and curiosity should not define on how I feel about myself.”

As for my body image struggles that are not regarding to my disability, and I’m sure most mothers agree, is the weight I have accumulated over the past six years of having two kids. I’ve always been a small girl who never had to worry about my weight. So, after having kids, it definitely has been a new struggle I’ve been learning how to navigate. I have a hard time finding exercises that I can physically do; however, walking with my family and dog, eating right, and doing a ton of researching for easy exercises will one day be rewarding with my goals. If you are struggling with that same thing, I encourage you to remind yourself that your body is AMAZING for creating human life. And the aftermath it leaves your body is a reminder, and is proof, that your body is BEAUTIFUL!
Taylor Boykin
Taylor Boykin

Age: 32
City: Overland Park
Disability: I have Cerebral Palsy and it affects my mobility, as well my physical ability.

My disability has affected my body image because it puts limits, at times, on the exercises that I can do. What having my disability has made me always look for are alternate ways to exercise, along with trying to make healthy eating choices that can help shape my body image. I know, for me, it is a little bit of trial and error at times because I know I am a different person from my early twenties to now being in my early thirties.

For me, other factors that have affected my body image had been some physical health issues that limited my opportunities to work on my body. I believe, outside of age, my body image has changed over time because my perspective has changed. I now see the importance of staying physically fit and physically active regarding my physical and mental health.

My advice to youth struggling with body image issues: only you can make the changes that are necessary to improve your quality of life and your outlook on life. If you want to make changes to your body, it does not have to be an overnight transformation. In many situations, it may be a goal that you could set for yourself long-term. Do not let anyone stop you or discourage you from becoming the happiest and healthiest person you can be. Regarding your physical fitness- find an exercise regimen that works for you and that meets your standards for yourself without physically exhausting yourself or something that mentally demands too much of you.
Josh Ruoff
Josh Ruoff

Age: 27
City: Kansas City
Disability: Spina Bifida

I think that my disability has affected how I view my body image in a few ways. First, I have had several surgeries and have several scars. My surgeries have also caused my legs to look different than an individual who is able bodied. My disability also requires me to use a wheelchair, which has affected my body image.

Today’s society puts pressure on males to look a certain way in order to be considered attractive. Your body has to look a certain way and you have to have certain features to be considered attractive.

I used to try to make my body look a certain way in order to impress others. As I have gotten older, I have tried to focus on doing things that make me happy with how I look and not worry about other’s opinions.

Do your best not to listen to society and even your friends that might be telling you that you have to look a certain way. Try to make your focus about presenting yourself in a way that makes you happy. Once you focus on self-love, you will learn to be more confident in how you look.
Sara Ehhrmann smiling with her two sons
Sara Ehrmann

Age: 29
City: Haysville
Disability: Low vision

I feel like my disability and having to wear glasses (or the ones I had growing up) affected how I seen myself. Having color lenses had me always questioning how others seen me and had me really not loving my image of myself. Other factors, such as health issues with my thyroid and having children, have affected also how I see myself, like weight gain and stretch marks.

[My body image] has changed over time by learning it’s the body that gave me my 2 boys. It’s the body I'm still learning to love. And I would advise others to do what makes them happy- get pictures taken. It’s one way I've learned to love my body, as well as I remind myself daily it takes time and it's a learning curve to it sometimes.
Haley Linnell
Haley Linnell

Age: 29
City: Kansas City
Disability: Visually impaired

As I was growing up, I was constantly picked on because I didn't have two perfectly good eyes like everybody else around me. Overtime, I have accepted me for who I am. Be proud of who you are and ignore what everybody else says.
Kelly Degenhardt on her wedding day
Kelly Degenhardt

Age: 26
City: Garden City
Disability: Spina Bifida

I feel like the label of having Spina bifida has affected my image of my body. Growing up, and getting with the right community, I've learned that God made me this way for a reason and that's to spread His name, so I've come to accept my body. I would say, take at least 5 minutes a day- put love into how you perceive your body image. The voice you listen to the most is your own, so be aware of how you speak to yourself. Everyone is beautiful in their own way.
A female looking sad while reading something on her phone
The World of Social Media
Does it help or harm our our self-esteem?
by Johnna Godinez, Program Assistant

Newsflash! I’ve been reading some articles about social media and body image and the effects it can have on young people. There are some negatives for sure, but, on the positive side, there’s some platforms that can be helpful. Body image became real to me as my brother Chris was a wrestler starting in Kindergarten until he graduated from high school. For very good reasons my Mom watched him like a hawk. Chris was always concerned about meeting his weight class requirements before each tournament and, at the same time, Mom was worried that he would develop an eating disorder.

Did you know that some research states that viewing social media too much can lead to eating disorders? True statement. For young men too. In social media, there are numerous photos of young men with six-packs and well-defined bodies full of muscles. The pressure to be “cut” can be harmful. Young women know all about this pressure to be thin, fit, and beautiful with perfect skin and hair. It’s all so unrealistic, and it can be dangerous too.

Social media can really have a negative effect on youth by viewing an almost constant stream of ideal body types. Let’s take a breath and remember that it takes a village to create the picture of human perfection. So, let’s list the professionals in the village: hairstylists, make-up artists, lighting specialists and lights, wardrobe, camera filters, and computer programs which can alter an image to result in a human that never existed in the first place. Likewise, please remember, what you see in images of real people on different social media platforms, they are likely using filters too.
A figure of a person standing at the edge of the ocean with their arms out
How do I know if I have a poor body image?

Great question! Sometimes this is hard to figure out. Are you just having a bad day or do you really have a poor body image of yourself? The article below a few things to look out for and gives lots of other information about body image.

"5 Subtle Signs you Have Poor Body Image"

By Dr. Elayne Daniels

In a perfect world, poor body image would not exist. An article about subtle signs you have poor body image would be silly. Or at least of little interest.

The world we live in is not perfect. (Newsflash, right?)

Historically, there have always been people (mostly women) dissatisfied with their body.

And by the way, there is waaaaaaay more to poor body image than “I hate my body”.

Subtle signs of poor body image are important to identify so that you can work on improving your relationship with your body. Here are five of the most common subtle signs you have poor body image.

1. Self-critical thoughts about your body, even if you keep them to yourself.

2. Ongoing comparison of your weight and shape to other people’s.

3. Jealousy due to the lower weight or ‘more attractive’ shape of a family member, friend, celebrity or even a stranger.

4. Cancellation of social plans.

5. Perpetuating body shame, racism, sizism, and weight discrimination.
A female smiling and looking into a mirror
Healthy Ways to Improve Your View of Yourself!
by Shayna Quigley, Therapist, T-LMLP, at Florence Crittenton Services of Topeka
Many people struggle with low self-esteem, but how do we improve how we view ourselves? Here’s how you can increase your body image and self-esteem:

  • Wear and do things that make you feel good about yourself or make you feel confident. What we wear has an effect on how we feel about ourselves, so wear things that you feel good in.
  • Be kind to yourself and say positive affirmations daily. Positive affirmations are positive phrases or statements that you make to yourself to help challenge negative thoughts or thinking patterns. Examples: I am strong. I am brave. I have a voice. Maybe even engage in kindness or self-love guided meditations. Mindfulness meditations have been shown to help increase self-esteem and reduce stress.
  • Take an inventory of things that you do like about yourself, your body, and your body’s capabilities. Really try to focus on what your body can do and how it helps you reach your goals. Write a list of everything you like, even if it seems small, and reflect back on it frequently.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others and others’ capabilities. You are uniquely you! If this means unfollowing certain people on social media or taking a break from social media, then do it!
  • Surround yourself with people who are positive. Our mood and perception of things are often influenced by those who are around us. When we have more positive people in our lives, we are more likely to think positively, too.
  • Challenge the negative thoughts you have about yourself. Thoughts are just, well, thoughts. Thoughts are pretty automatic and are influenced by our emotions. Thoughts are not facts. When a negative thought pops into your head, ask yourself: is this thought 100% true? Am I thinking in all-or-nothing terms? Am I concentrating on my weaknesses rather than my strengths? Am I expecting myself to be perfect? Try to look for the evidence that proves the thought wrong.
  • Remind yourself that no one is perfect, in any way, shape, or form. You have great strengths that others may not have and are just as worthy as every other human being to feel good about yourself and have confidence in your abilities.
  • Seek out help from a professional, such as a therapist or counselor, especially if your low self-esteem or body image gets in the way of you enjoying or making the most out of your life.

It is important to remember that building self-esteem and a positive body image takes time and practice! You didn’t develop a negative body image or negative self-perception overnight, so you will not develop a positive body image overnight, either. :)

Various descriptive words in different colors forming the shape of a brain
The Key: Positive Affirmations
A Quick and Easy Way to Encourage Yourself
by Johnna Godinez, Program Assistant

Some of us have what I call a “crap tape,” or a constant negative internal conversation, going on in our minds. By changing the words and phrases that we use, we can improve our self-body image. For instance, I used to look in the mirror every morning and say to myself “Hello sweetie. I love you.” Slowly my “crap tape” began to lighten up on the insults of how ugly and fat I thought I was. This is because I was using positive affirmations! Did you know that there are even phone apps to help you with these positive self-affirmations? Below are four of these apps for youth. Why don’t you try an app and see if it will work for you?
Think Up logo
Think up (iPhone / Android) – This app gives options to practice positive self-talk. You can even record your self-affirmations in your own voice. - FREE
Happify logo
Happify (iPhone / Android) – Uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, includes journaling. CBT is a technique that helps individuals break down their issues (including self-talk) that causes them to be overwhelmed. Larger problems are broken down into smaller problems that can be solved. CBT can involve building on developing a positive body and self-image. - FREE
Unique Daily Affirmations logo
Unique Daily Affirmations (iPhone / Android)– One positive daily affirmation per day shows up in this app. - FREE
I am logo
I Am (iPhone / Android)- Helps you change your negative thoughts into positive ones, as well as believe in yourself. You have the option to choose which type of affirmations to receive, and you can even set reminders on when you will receive them. - FREE
Shine logo
Shine (iPhone / Android)- A text messaging service based on the idea that sometimes, you need some phrases from others to guide your positive thinking. - FREE
If you don’t want to use an app, just try using some of these positive affirmations!

1. I’m getting better and better every day in every way.

2. I can accept help from others. It does not make me weak.

3. I am kind, I am smart, I am blessed.

4. I am kind, I am smart, I am important. (From the movie The Help)

5. I do not give others the power to make me feel bad about myself.

6. I don’t have to be perfect all the time. I can let my guard down and let people know me for who I am.

7. I accept my flaws because they make me who I am.

8. I am successful when I learn from my failures and use what I learned to help others.

9. I don’t have to compare myself to others.

10. On the lighter side – Fill in the blank: I am _____________.
a good friend
a superstar!
a leader

Community Power!
Highlighting helpful resources throughout the state

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
by Cassidy Webster, Empower Me! Workshop Alumna '22

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is a national organization with state chapters that helps youth with disabilities and their special education teachers. The information and training for teachers prepares youth for the future, which will provide them with even more opportunities. I had the opportunity to interview Shari Oren who is a Kansas teacher in special education.
CEC allows all special educators, including the gifted and the talented, to all come together. The teachers for the visually impaired and other students with disabilities get together to talk and share ideas.
A person wearing a wine colored shirt that says I teach Special Education what's your superpower
Have You Heard?
Opportunities in Kansas
Kansas is going to have it's first Disabled and Proud Parade!!! And it is being organized by our very own KSYLF and Faces alumna, Kirstianna Guerrero! Would you like to celebrate your disability with others who are disabled and proud too? This parade is all about uniting to celebrate the beauty and diversity of all people with disabilities in our state! This parade is scheduled for July 23, 2022 in downtown Topeka. Learn more
SAVE THE DATE for the 2022 Kansas Disability Caucus! This year's Caucus will be in-person at the Hotel Topeka at City Center (formerly Capitol Plaza Hotel). It will be held on August 10-12, 2022. This year's theme is "Together We Rise, United in Action!" The Caucus is one of the largest gatherings of the disability community in Kansas! It includes keynote speakers, various informational sessions, and regional breakout sessions to express areas of needed advocacy and change in our state. We want to see youth represented at this year's Caucus, so put it on your calendar and plan to attend! Registration materials available very soon and will be found on our KYEA website.
Would you like to have fun, meet new people, and reach your health goals? There is a new program for young women with and without autism called Mapping My Health! Together participants set and go after their own health goals and create a community map with all the people, places, and programs that can support them on their health journey. This program is for young women ages 14-22 from the Lawrence and Kansas City areas. Email Dr. Jennifer Bumble for more information-

An important study is needing more youth participants! If you receive Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), then consider participating. Researchers want to know if and how HCBS services are working in order to help people live the lives they want. Participating involves a few Zoom meetings, and you will get a $10 Mastercard from it! You must be at least 18 years old to participate. To participate or for questions, contact Noelle Kurth at 785-864-7085 or Learn more

Do you want to see changes in Home and Community Based Services (HCBS)? KU is looking for research participants for a study on Medicaid/KanCare HCBS in Kansas during the COVID-19 Pandemic. They want to know about how the pandemic impacted the waiver services you receive or provide, and how you navigated COVID-19 safety practices. You can fill out an anonymous survey or participate in a private interview, and could even receive a bit of money for participating. Sign up

The Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities (KUCDD) is working alongside state and local partners to establish or revitalize Transition Councils across Kansas. This initiative is part of a broader project, My Transition My Career. Email or to learn more.

Opportunities on a National Level

SCHOLARSHIP! NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship
Offers 8 scholarships to be used in the fall semester of 2022 to incoming and undergraduate students (at any accredited college or university), and graduate students with disabilities who are pursuing careers in media, communications, or entertainment industries. Each recipient will receive $5,625 to help cover the cost of education at their college or university. Learn more

Are you a caregiver to your sibling who has an intellectual / developmental disability? A study is being conducted to find out how the future planning of sibling caregivers influences their relationship satisfaction with romantic partners. The study takes about 45 minutes and can be done in your own home. Learn more
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