Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy banner with Santa hat

Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy Newsletter
Issue #33
December 2015 
in this issue
:: Through Julia's Eyes
:: Spotlight On: Zach Coble
:: Top 10 Moments in KYEA History
:: It's Winter Break: What will you do with yourself?
:: A New Year: Making SMART Resolutions
:: State and National Opportunities
:: SILCK Seeking Feedback from Kansas Youth
:: Question of the Month
:: Curl Up With a Good Book: Suggested Books on Disability
:: Community Power: CFI in Kansas City
:: Spotlight On: Danielle and Peter

Snow covered village with sparkling lights on the buildings in the distance
Happy Holidays and Happy Birthday!! Yes, I know what I just said, and no, all of the hot chocolate has not gone to my head :). Happy Holidays because there are lots of holidays coming up... duh! And Happy Birthday because, this year, we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of KYEA being a non-profit organization. So, Happy Birthday to KYEA!

With that said, I'm sure you can guess what our December issue is all about. With this newsletter, we celebrate our past, our present, and our future. Read on to take a look back at how KYEA started, our favorite moments, what is currently going on with our programs, and even check out an update on one of our most asked about founding members and KSYLF alumni. Also be sure to read all of the awesome comments from our alumni... we love you all and are so proud of you!

Because it's December, we also couldn't forget the holidays and the fact that winter is upon us! So, we've thrown in some interesting articles about how to spend your winter break and how to really accomplish those resolutions in 2016. And, we bring you our usual state and national opportunities, as well as a new Community Power article featuring the Coalition for Independence!

Thank you all for your amazing support in 2015. Happy Holidays, and here's to an even more amazing 2016! We'll see you in the new year!

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

Dear Santa:

I know you are very busy around this time of year, and I've tried really hard for the past 10 years not to bother you.  We turned 10 years old in October, and, unfortunately, we are missing some very important gifts to help us celebrate.  I know that your priority is to fulfill the wishes that kids have asked for throughout the year.  I am not a kid, but I do work for youth at KYEA and hope you consider my wish list for this amazing organization.

1. Our lighting in our office needs to be fixed.  We have many balusters that need to be replaced, but cannot afford to hire an expert to do this.  It is essential that we have good lighting in the office so the staff can see what they are doing while they are working hard.

2. Our carpet and kitchen chairs desperately need to be shampooed.  This may sound like a luxury, but our carpet has not been shampooed for 3 years!  It is important to me that there is not allergen build up in the carpet, as well as that we have clean chairs for everyone to sit on.

3. For some time now, staff have had to find the time to clean the office ourselves.  This takes time away from working on programs, but it is essential that we have a clean work space.  Could you find us a volunteer to come in weekly to clean our office?

4. There are monthly expenses that none of our grants cover in the amount of $1,833.  Do you know about 100 people that could donate $20 on a consistent and monthly basis?  I know people have tight budgets, so if they can donate $5, $10, or $15 per month, that would be amazing as well!!  Expenses include:
  • Travel costs
  • Office supplies
  • Audit and accounting services
  • Insurance
  • Rent
  • Office maintenance
  • Phone and internet services
  • Postage
  • Disability related accommodations
  • Copying/printing needs
  • Meals during programs
I know that you are probably thinking, "what do the above expenses have to do with serving youth?"  If we cannot pay for these expenses, we cannot provide any programs, or even stay open, to change the lives of youth in Kansas.  Santa, I feel so bad for burdening you with our needs, but we absolutely LOVE what we do at KYEA, and we work so hard throughout the year to keep this organization running.  I know you have an amazing army of elves that are excellent toy makers, but if they have any questions on how to make these gifts happen, or want to know what additional needs we have, they can e-mail me at juliat@kyea.org or call 785-215-6655.  We have so many more needs that are not listed, but I will appreciate ANYTHING you decide to gift us!  We do not have a chimney for you to drop off the gifts or a budget for cookies and milk, but you can click the donate button on our website ( www.kyea.org) to leave your gift or send us something in the postal mail.  I will personally send you a most humble and appreciative thank you letter with the promise of continued hard work and belief in all youth with disabilities!!

With Love,
Happy Birthday KYEA!!! 
KYEA logo with colorful birthday balloons surrounding it
The Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy officially opened as a non-profit organization in October of 2005. That means that we are 10 years old this year!

KYEA has changed and grown so much over the years, but our core mission remains the same: To educate, mentor, and support youth with disabilities in Kansas to be contributing members of their community.

A huge thank you to all of our alumni, staff, past volunteers, sponsors and supporters, and friends who have supported us over the last 10 years and beyond. We couldn't achieve our mission without you!

Enjoy this issue of our newsletter as we celebrate 10 years of empowering Kansas youth with disabilities through the work of KYEA!  
"YLF definitely gave me more confidence to reach goals I hesitated to pursue in my life. It also gave me a positive self-worth about myself." 
-- David Ibarra, KSYLF Alumni '03  
Our Roots... Where It All Began

Did you know that KYEA began as just the Kansas Youth Leadership Forum? Yes, we became an organization in 2005, but KYEA was born out of the KSYLF. The first KSYLF was held in 2001. So, technically, we could be celebrating our 15th year!

The KSYLF was brought to Kansas by a small group of advocates from different agencies who believed in the potential of young people with disabilities becoming leaders. The first KSYLF was funded by the Resource Center for Independent Living. The intention of this first steering committee was that KSYLF would eventually become it's own non-profit organization led by youth with disabilities.

In 2005, this dream became reality when staff, alumni, parents, and volunteers came together to advocate for such an organization. Youth, their parents, and staff all testified in front of the legislature to receive match funding, and they were successful! With base funding from Kansas Rehabilitation Services, the Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy, Inc. opened in October of 2005. We currently have six programs and many other services that we host at KYEA.

None of this would have happened without the original steering committee, who we call our founding fathers and mothers, as well as the first board of directors for KYEA. Thank you to the following people: Bart Chaney, Wendy Coates, Brenda Eddy, Martha Gabehart, Troy Horton, Basil Kessler, Tami Allen, Gina McDonald, Zach Coble, J oAnne Fluke   , Melissa Ness, and Bruce Linhos.

Black and white group photo of 2001 KSYLF delegates in the Governor's office
Delegates at the very first Kansas Youth Leadership Forum in 2001 take a group photo in the Governor's office. KYEA was born from the KSYLF and still hosts this program, as well as many others.
"Both years that I attended KSYLF, I was truly honored. I did not feel that I, a young man from a small town in New Mexico with ADHD and a learning disability, was worthy of being a part of a program like KSYLF and KYEA. During my time at KSYLF, I learned to be happy of who I was and that I could overcome any and everything that stood in my path to success. It has been 5 years since my last visit to KSYLF, and, in that time, I have had two very successful jobs. I started my own business, and I am currently working on starting two more in 2016. I got married to a beautiful woman, and we have two boys. My Heavenly Father, my family, along with the leaders, volunteers, participants, the sponsors and everyone that donates to these programs, helped me become the man I am today. Thank you. I love all of you at KYEA."
-- Herschel Funk, KSYLF Alumni '09 
Spotlight On!
Zach Coble, Tucson, Arizona

Why are we spotlighting an adult in Arizona you ask? Well, because Zach started out as a youth leader in Kansas and was a very important part of the team that created KYEA. We thought many of you might be wondering, "where is Zach nowadays?" Read on to find out!

by Dezarae Marcotte, ICON Alumna

Zach Coble wearing a hat with the Arizona desert behind him

In honor of the Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy's 10th anniversary, December's spotlight is on Zach Coble. Zach is an alumni of the Kansas Youth Leadership Forum, graduating from the program in 2002. He later went on to be on the board of directors for KYEA in 2005 when the organization was first starting out; he was there until 2009.

The KSYLF, and KYEA, helped educate Zach on the rights, history, and the overall community for people with disabilities. Zach has cerebral palsy, and, with the program and organization's help, Zach was able to make friends and see that he is not alone, but that there is a whole community he is a part of.

Zach went on to study law at Washburn University in Topeka, where he graduated with a law degree in 2010. He chose law because he wanted to understand how law and government impacted people's lives. Zach also thought law would help him understand how to be a better advocate for the disability community.

After graduating, Zach and his wife, Naomi, moved to Arizona. In Arizona, he worked for Child Protective Services, helping children and families. In 2012, he started working for the Social Security Department helping people receive benefits. In his spare time, Zach volunteers with the Center for Independent Living. He is on the board of directors, handling the legal side of the center. If he's not working or volunteering, Zach enjoys reading, trike riding, or being with his wife and cat Mo.

When asked if Zach had any advice for youth who may be in similar situations that he went through, Zach said that it is important to have support. Whether it be family, friends, or a community, he says that support was the best thing for him to have while going through life with a disability.

Whether in Kansas or Arizona, Zach continues to be an advocate. One of his future goals is to make Tucson a better, more accessible place for the disability community. We know he will do just that!

"The programs have made me a more independent person. They made me become a better advocate for myself." 
-- Taylor Boykin, KSYLF Alumni '08
Top 10 Moments in KYEA History! 

Top 10
It's December, and you know what that means... Top 10 time! Usually, this month, our staff picks out the best 10 moments of the year for KYEA. BUT, since we are celebrating our anniversary, we thought we'd go bigger and reminisce about the last 10 years! There are just some moments that stand out as "wow moments" for us as staff... moments that we will not forget and that helped shape our organization. So, let's take a walk down memory lane as we look back on the Top 10 Moments at KYEA (in no particular order)! 

1. Advocating for, and achieving the passage of, the Disability Awareness and History Bill in Kansas in 2009. We were honored to help make this happen.

2. Every summer that KSYLF alumni return to serve as volunteer staff and mentor the new delegates. It's such a huge complement and a proud moment for all of us!

3. KYEA staff taking a picture with Santa many years ago... you're never too old to meet Santa!

4. All of the moments that we have spent getting to know the Peterson family and witnessing their generosity in honor of their son, John. In John's memory, we created the Spirit of Hope Award in 2013.

5. Wearing pajamas to work for Halloween for the first time. Or wait, more like, EVERY Halloween... it's become our KYEA tradition!

6. The "first" of each of our programs- first Empower Me! Series, first ICON intern, first KSYLF, etc. Every program year is unique and special, but there is something extra awesome about the first of each.

7. Attending the Able Hawks AccessiBall at KU with our youth in 2013- a highlight because we had so much fun!

8. The Kansas Youth Leadership Forum 10 Year Reunion- how amazing was it to see alumni from 10 years and from all over the state come together as a family?

9. Receiving the EP Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished Service Award in 2007. This is a standout because Julia got to accept the award at Disability Awareness Night at the Royals game vs. the Yankees and throw out the first pitch in front of thousands of people!

10. Being informed that we received our continued funding from Kansas Rehabilitation Services in December of 2011. Not only did this keep our doors open, but it was a time when our staff, alumni, friends, and supporters all rallied to advocate for KYEA and for the future of youth with disabilities in our state.  
"KYEA helped me on my journey towards college and helped me to become more aware of my disability and to share it with the world." 
-- Joseph Stroud, KSYLF Alumni '07
It's Winter Break!
What will you do with yourself?

by Alana Foster, KYEA Washburn Intern

School is almost out, and you might be considering all of the fun things that you can do over winter break! But, this year, instead of letting your break slip by, try some of these unique ideas to fill your time with giving back and having fun:

1. Do something kind for someone else. A little kindness goes a long way.

Paint palette and brushes with many colors of paint all over them 2. Spend some time on your hobbies. With all this extra time, why not do something fun?

3. Being thankful isn't just for November! Make a list of things you are thankful for this year.

4. Consider volunteering some of your time. You'd be surprised what you can learn!

5. Read a book about something you like. Whether your interest is in science or fashion or something else, reading about something you love can inspire you to keep going. You could even seek out some interesting book laying openbooks about disability! We're getting you started with our "suggested reads" to the right.

6. Make memories with friends and family. Have a Smartphone? Try downloading the pho.to lab app on your phone for holiday-themed pictures.

7. Think about goals to set for 2016 so that you can be the best that you can be!

A New Year: Time for Resolutions!
Tips for making your 2016 resolutions SMART and achievable

Flip calendar showing January 1 A new year will begin in just a few weeks. Have you thought about your resolutions yet? Resolutions are kind of like goals in that they are things that we want to accomplish. With that said, we figured that using the SMART tips might be helpful when coming up with resolutions. So, read on to find out how you can really make your resolutions happen in the new year!

by Ranita Wilks, Independence, Inc. 
S.M.A.R.T !

What do you want to achieve?  

How will you measure your achievements? What are the action steps needed to achieve your goal?

Can you achieve this goal? Is it possible? Realistic?

Does the goal add any value to your life?

Time bound-
When do you want to accomplish your goal? Setting a timeline gives you something to aim towards. Setting smaller time lines can help you track progress.

For Example:
"My goal is to kick my daily fast food habit and eat healthier in 2016. By January 1st, I will start to reduce the number of days per week I eat fast food and will increase eating healthy meals to at least three times per week. I will measure my progress at the end of each month. By December 1, 2016, ninety percent of my meals will be healthy foods."
"YLF changed my life forever after I completed it in 2005." 
-- Rochelle Kinney, KSYLF Alumna '05
News and Events
Opportunities in Kansas
- The Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas is working on a plan for people with disabilities in our state, and they need to hear from youth! Share your thoughts and experiences by answering a few of their questions. For full details, see the article above in the Let Your Voice Be Heard block.

- Do you know an adult woman or a young lady who is wheelchair mobile and has a voice that they need to share? Ms. Wheelchair Kansas is currently searching for women of achievement to serve as contestants in the 2016 event. They are also launching a Little Miss Wheelchair Kansas program that will recognize young spirited girls, ages 5-12, who are wheelchair mobile. Both chosen titleholders have the unique opportunity to empower and educate people in our state. Applications for both programs are due by January 7, 2016. For full details, visit the MWKS website .   
Opportunities on a National Level
- Do you know an outstanding leader in the disability community? Encourage them to apply for the AAPD Paul G. Hearne Award! This award recognizes emerging leaders with disabilities who show leadership, advocacy, and dedication to the broader cross-disability community. Two winners will each receive $2,500 in recognition of their outstanding contributions and $7,500 to further a new or existing project that increases the political and economic power of people with disabilities. They also get to attend a gala. Act fast though! Applications are due by December 18. Get full details

The summer 2016 Youth in International Development and Foreign Affairs internship program is still looking for applicants. This program focuses on youth with disabilities from across the U.S. who intend to pursue careers in international development or foreign affairs. A group of talented U.S. citizen graduate students, recent graduates, and rising juniors and seniors with disabilities will be selected and will come to Washington, DC, for nine weeks. Part of this experience includes an internship at an international organization. The application deadline in January 12. Learn more

Maybe you can't commit to a full internship, but you have an interest in international work. Let KYEA know by emailing carrieg@kyea.org. There might be other opportunities for you to get involved!

Each summer, AAPD places college students, graduate students, law students, and recent graduates with all types of disabilities in paid 10-week summer internships in Congressional offices, federal agencies, non-profit and for-profit organizations in the Washington, DC area. Each intern is matched with a mentor who will assist them with their career goals and they receive a stipend, transportation to and from Washington, DC, and fully-accessible housing. Applications are now available. Learn more

- SPRING INTERNSHIP! The National Council on Independent Living is also currently searching for interns who will work in their Washington, D.C. office in the Spring of 2016. NCIL will host 2 internship positions that will last 12 weeks. Applicants are accepted on a rolling basis.The NCIL Policy Internship Program is open to students and individuals pursuing a career in a field relevant to NCIL interests, particularly Independent Living and disability advocacy. Learn more

- NCWD/Youth has released a new guide, Making My Way through College, aimed at helping students with disabilities navigate post secondary education. The guide provides information and resources on preparing for and succeeding in college and transitioning from college into the world of work. Check it out!

- The Job Accommodation Network released a new online training, for youth with disabilities, called Bridging the Gap Across Transition. With this training, youth can learn about their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It also helps youth learn about how to navigate the transition to post secondary education, training opportunities, and employment. Youth learn about self-advocacy, disclosure of disabilities, and reasonable accommodations under the ADA. Learn more
"KYEA has truly impacted my life for the better! From the moment I walked through those doors to experience the KSYLF, I was insecure about my disability and vulnerable. By the time I became a KSYLF alum, I felt confident and accepted my disability. When I finally accepted my disability, I felt like I could enjoy life and be happy! This organization has impacted my career choice of becoming a Special Education Teacher. I taught for two years before becoming a stay-at-home mom and loved teaching students who have special needs as I could really connect with them. Lastly, I want to thank the KYEA staff for always believing in me and helping me realize I can achieve my goals as long as I believe in myself and put forth the effort." 
-- Danielle Willcott, KSYLF Alumna '07
KYEA Updates
Sharing all things new in our KYEA world...
Empower Me! Series to host "It's My Life!" Workshop in Salina

It_s My Life logo with license plate_ car_ money_ newspaper_ and house Do you want to live independently someday? Do you think it's possible? There are so many options when it comes to independent living, and we want to help you learn about this, as well as how to take charge of your future! KYEA is partnering with Independent Connection to host a one-day weekend workshop called "It's My Life!" The "It's My Life!" workshop is part of our Empower Me! Series that we are taking across the state. Our next stop... Salina!

The "It's My Life!" workshop will take place on Saturday, January 23 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. It will be held at the OCCK Conference Center (located at the OCCK transportation office) in Salina. This workshop is open to youth with disabilities, ages 15-24, who live in Salina or surrounding areas.

Come and spend a day with KYEA staff and your peers and learn all about how to live independently, manage your money, find transportation, make good decisions, etc! Hear from speakers, participate in group discussions, meet other youth with disabilities, and enjoy hands on activities, food, prizes, and more. KYEA will give you the tools to be more prepared for your future.

This workshop is free. To attend, you must fill out a registration form. Registrations are due by JANUARY 8, 2016.

Register today!

KSYLF Extends Deadline for Delegate Applications   

KSYLF logo with dove It's that time again! KYEA is currently searching for potential youth leaders to attend our 16th Annual Kansas Youth Leadership Forum (KSYLF), and we have extended the application deadline to February 5, 2016. Are you a youth with a disability who has an interest in leadership, who wants to become a better advocate, or who would like to meet other youth leaders with disabilities? Then consider applying to the KSYLF! The 2016 KSYLF will be held July 11-16 at Washburn University in Topeka.
All students who are interested in attending the KSYLF must meet the following criteria:
  • reside in Kansas
  • have a disability as defined with the Americans With Disabilities Act
  • be in the 11th or 12th grade, or in an 18-21 transition program, as of December 31, 2015
  • have demonstrated leadership potential in school and the community
A group of 2015 delegates pose for a photo before the dance
Interested students must fill out an application that will be reviewed through a competitive selection process. The application deadline had been extended and is now February 5, 2016.

Learn more

Print a KSYLF application

View our poster

Seeking Participants for New Faces of Change Leadership Program

Faces of Change logo Calling all young adults!! Do you have a strong interest for making change in your community and in your life? If your answer is YES, we are looking for you!!

Our newest program, Faces of Change, is an advanced leadership program with a strong emphasis on community service. We are currently recruiting approximately 10 - 15 young adults, ages 16-25, with any disabilities / special health care needs who have / are exhibiting strong leadership skills. Leadership can be both formal and informal, and is not limited to those individuals who have held leadership positions within clubs or organizations.

Here are all of the important details:

- Faces takes place one weekend per month, for 7 months;

- Takes place at the Ramada Inn, Topeka, from March - October 2016;

- This program enhances your current leadership skills, experience in developing a community change project, and opportunities to network with others;

- Travel, lodging, meals and accommodations are FREE; and

- Participating in Faces looks impressive on your resume!

The selection process is competitive and includes filling out a formal application, providing references, and participating in a phone interview. Applications must be completed and returned by January 11, 2016. Click the link below to view and print an application.
For more information, contact Julia Connellis at 785-215-6655 or email juliat@kyea.org.

Print a Faces application 
"I was an ICON intern for KYEA. This year, I have prepared for, and am now serving, a service mission for the church I am in. I feel that being an ICON helped prepare me for this mission." 
-- Allison Wilkes, ICON Alumna 
Let Your Voice Be Heard
SILCK Seeking Thoughts and Experiences From Youth with Disabilities
Gold thought bubble that states Calling All Youth!  
The Statewide Independent Living Council of Kansas (SILCK) strives to promote and encourage independent living for all Kansans with disabilities. They do this by setting goals every few years (Statewide Plan for Independent Living - SPIL) and working towards those goals. The only way for SILCK to develop these goals, though, is if you provide your input on what is and is not working for you as a person with a disability. We challenge you to answer the following three questions:

1. What are the challenges in your community (city/town you live) that make it difficult for you to become or remain independent? For example: lack of employment opportunities, no support at school, lack of transportation, funding for college, etc.

2. What ideas do you have to help people with disabilities and yourself become more independent? For example: more help finding a job, funding for college, accessible transportation, protection from bullying, etc.

3. What IS working well for you in your community to help you become, or keep you, independent? For example: good IEP and support at school, vocational rehabilitation, support groups, health insurance, etc.

We know that you all have opinions to share, so go ahead and send your answers to Julia Connellis ( juliat@kyea.org ) no later than December 31, 2015. Your opinion as a young person is SO important to the future of Kansas! Let your voice be heard!
"Before I attended the YLF, I lacked confidence and the courage to advocate for myself in the face of discrimination or unfair judgment by the general public or even businesses. Thanks to the leaders, I learned the assertiveness and self-respect it takes to speak out against injustice and represent, not just myself, but others, in my community and sphere of influence who are differently abled." 
-- Jocelyn Janes, KSYLF Alumna '03 
It's getting cold outside, the holidays are around the corner, and a new year will be upon us soon!

Get prepared... keep reading! 
Question of the Month
What is your favorite thing to do in the winter months?
quotation mark Drink hot chocolate and sing Christmas carols.
- Kelly Abrahamian, youth in Wichita

Spending time with my son, playing games with him. Staying warm in bed, watching TV.
- Callie Hargett, KSYLF Alumna '05

To be at home and doing nothing.
- Meg Sitz, KSYLF Alumna '15

Sitting inside with a good book and a cup of either hot chocolate or hot coffee.
- Haley Linnell, EMS Alumna and KSYLF Volunteer

At home, playing my Xbox 360.
- Lane Chambers, KSYLF Alumni '13

Music is my passion, so I participate in church and school choirs. Also, I love going to New Year's Eve church dances.
- Allison Wilkes, ICON Alumna

At home, bundled up watching tv and being with my family.
- Julia Guthrie, KSYLF Alumna '13

quotation markDrinking hot chocolate and spending time with family.
- Christian Roberson, KSYLF Alumni '08
Curl Up With a Good Book
Suggested reads from KYEA on the topic of disability

by Johnna Godinez, Program Assistant 

Well, it's almost your holiday break, and, after all the gifts are unwrapped and the wonderful meals have been prepared and eaten, what will you do with yourself? How about getting something warm to drink, a bowl of snacks, and sit down with a good book? We discovered that there are a lot of great books out there on the topic of disability, or even written by people with disabilities. Below is a list of books that we suggest you check out. Enjoy!    

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 1.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
Yes, this classic focuses on racism, but it focuses on disability too. Scout and her brother must deal with their experience of prejudice against their neighbor with a learning disability Boo Radley. It's worth a first or second read.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon 2. Curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon (2004)
Christopher, a youth with Aspergers, works to solve the mystery of a dead dog that he finds. He also has grand plans to write a mystery novel about this event.

Don_t worry he won_t get far on foot by John Callahan 3. Don't worry he won't get far on foot by John Callahan (1989)
A personal, honest, and no-pity account of the multiple frustrating roadblocks Callahan experienced on the journey to leadership, happiness and success as a person with paraplegia.

Letters to Sam by Daniel Gottlieb 4. Letters to Sam: A grandfather's lessons on love, loss, and the gifts of life by Daniel Gottlieb (2006)
Gottlieb, a wheelchair user, provides the wisdom of his experience (how to deal with parents, how to fall in love, how to respond to bullies, etc.) for his Grandson, who happens to have Autism.

Different, Not Less by Temple Grandin 5. Different... Not Less: Inspiring stories of achievement and employment for adults with Autism, Asperger's, and ADHD by Temple Grandin (2012)
A collection of stories from several people with Autism who have a variety of jobs, some possibly unexpected. This book has an overall theme of developing one's talents to achieve success.

No Pity by Joseph Shapiro 6. No Pity: People with disabilities forging a new civil rights movement by James Shapiro (1993)
An account of the history of the disability movement and the key activists who helped pass the Americans with Disabilities Act. Reading this book will help you discover your disability rights roots, and it might just help you in your leadership journey. It's a heavy read, but worth it in the end.

Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper 7. Out of my mind by Sharon Draper (2010)
This novel spotlights a highly intelligent youth whose cerebral palsy does not allow her to communicate by writing or speaking. Melody learns that she has important thoughts and opinions that she is not able to express; that is, until she discovers a way to speak her mind.

Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson 8. Thunder Dog: The true story of a blind man, his guide dog, and triumph of trust at Ground Zero by Michael Hingson (2011)
The true account of guide-dog handler Hingson and his well-trained guide-dog Roselle. Roselle guided Hingson down seventy-eight flights of stairs in the twin towers during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Christine by Stephen King 9. Christine by Stephen King (1983)
Did you know Stephen King has a visual disability? We knew we had to include him on this list! In Christine, Arnie buys and restores a 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine and thus begins the slippery slope of evil and tragedy.

Read My Lips by Terri Brown 10. Read my lips by Terri Brown (2008)
Life is all about choices. Serena's self-accommodation of being able to read lips is discovered by the most popular group of girls in her school. Overnight, Serena finds herself popular and acting as a spy. An interesting take on using your disability to your advantage...
"I was impacted by a KYEA program called YLF. It has changed me so much since high school, and being able to be an advocate for myself and learning about resources, others disabilities, and my own, and the history of how it all started to where we are now! I have come out of my shell since then and have spoke up for myself. YLF will always be one of the best memories I will ever have, especially making so many friends to stay in contact with!!!" 
-- Dayna Rucker, KSYLF Alumna '09
Community Power! 
Circle with different types of disability logos Highlighting centers for independent living throughout the state 
Coalition for Independence, Kansas City

Kyle Christine, KSYLF Alumni from Kansas City, gives us the full scoop on what Coalition for Independence has to offer!

Coalition for Independence logo

The Coalition for Independence (CFI) is a center for independent living that can help consumers with disabilities who wish to live independently. They provide services in the counties of Johnson, Wyandotte and Leavenworth and have 18 staff. CFI is a consumer-driven organization that serves people with all types of disabilities. Their purpose is to help people with disabilities to enhance their own rights through education, services, support and community change.

They have two offices in Kansas City on both the Kansas and Missouri sides. On the Kansas side, CFI has moved offices and is now located at 626 Minnesota Avenue, Suite 200.

CFI provides many services to youth. Independent Living staff work to empower youth with disabilities by meeting with them to identify and set goals on an Independent Living Plan. CFI makes referrals to other agencies for services that will help the youth in reaching their goals. They also meet with transition students in the Shawnee Mission School District once a month to give presentations or lead discussion about different topics related to transitioning to adulthood.

One very exciting announcement from CFI is that they are now hosting completely accessible viewing sessions of popular movies at a local movie theatre. CFI collaborates with B&B Movies- Overland Park 16 (8601 W. 135th St.) to show one accessible movie a month. "Daddy's Home" will be shown 10:00 a.m. on January 9, 2016. Each ticket is only $5.00. Accessibility features available include: close-captioning, "living-room" sound level, extra seating for those who are wheelchair mobile, headphone amplifiers, and more. For more information, go to www.bbtheatres.com.

To stay up to date, you can check out CFI on Twitter and Facebook. To find out about other programs and services, contact Amber Thurston at athurston@cfi-kc.org or 913-378-2270, or visit www.cfi-kc.org .
"YLF has showed me how I could channel my leadership to the max as I became a better leader, which resulted in me having the most school spirit at Gardner Edgerton and being the recipient of a special award." 
-- Kyle Christine, KSYLF Alumni '11
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Carrie Greenwood
Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy