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

Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy Newsletter
Issue #45
September 2018
in this issue
:: Through Julia's Eyes
:: 21 Delegates Gather for Kansas Youth Leadership Forum
:: Three Leaders Recognized at Mentor Luncheon
:: Pre-ETS Empower Me Workshops Start Back Up
:: Spotlight On: Rachel Bell
:: Songs to Get Motivated to Start Something New
:: Introducing- KYEA's New Intern
:: Advocacy Corner: Advocacy Comes in All Forms
:: State and National Opportunities
:: KYEA News
:: In Loving Memory of Roger Frischenmeyer
:: Madonna's Corner
:: Starting a College Experience
:: School Comes in All Forms
:: Question of the Month
:: A Disability Can Be New Too
:: Community Power: Information and Referral
:: CIL Calendar

A time for new beginnings
It's been awhile since our last newsletter! Things are fast and furious with KYEA. After a busy summer of our 2018 Kansas Youth Leadership Forum, we jumped right back into Faces of Change sessions and Empower Me! workshops with Pre-ETS. So, needless to say, we have lots of updates in this issue!

We hope that you all had a wonderful summer of relaxation. As we prepared to have a whole issue focused on back to school topics, we realized that this time of year really is more than just back to school... it is a time of new beginnings! So, this entire newsletter is focused on starting new things in your life. This can be scary, hard, and stressful, but, it can also be exciting, fun, and life-changing. So, read on for many examples of how youth with disabilities in our state have dealt with starting anew in school, work, disability, and more. You might even be inspired to step out of your comfort zone and begin some new experiences yourself!

This newsletter also contains a wide variety of state and national opportunities, as well as our usual Advocacy Corner, Community Power section, and, of course, Madonna's two cents! So, it is chock full of helpful information that can help you take those steps forward. We hope that you find it useful.

Happy Fall everyone! Enjoy!

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

In July, I made the decision to start exercising again.  I have made this decision many times before, but found it too easy to make excuses to not follow through.  I had a long day at work; I am tired; I am in pain; It is too late in the evening; I am not a morning person; and the list could go on and on.  My decision in July was a bit different though.  I made this decision while I was on a walk with my friend Kathy.  We took a stroll around Washburn University campus, and it made me feel so good!  I felt strong, proud and confident for that 30 minute walk.  My mind was clear of fog, and my body felt relaxed.  So why is it that, whenever you create a new habit, it is so darn hard?! (using my whiney voice)  I remember Oprah saying once that it takes 21 days to create a habit.  Well, I have passed my 21 days and, sorry Oprah, it is still not a habit.  While I have exercised at least 3 times a week (give or take a week or two) since July, every day is a new day.  Every day I ask myself "should I work out today?"  Sometimes, the answer is an easy "yes," but, other times, the excuses pop up.

Here is the deal, I know I want to exercise, and I know what my ultimate goal is.  That does not mean, though, that starting this journey is easy.  Honestly, it is downright tough!  So, here are some tips that help me each day, and I hope they help you with your new endeavors:

1. Talk to others about your new endeavor.  The more people you tell, the more support you will receive.

2. Find an accountability partner.  When you have those tough days and do not want to move forward with your goal, having someone who can talk you out of the excuses and pump you up is priceless.

3. When you stumble, dust yourself off and continue on.  Starting something new is exciting and motivating at first, but eventually, the newness wears off.  When the excitement wears off or you have a negative attitude towards your new endeavor, allow yourself a 5 minute pity party, dust yourself off, and continue forward.  

4. Celebrate your success!  There is never a wrong time to celebrate and have gratitude.  Be proud of how far you have come and look forward to how far you will go.
Kansas Youth Leadership Forum Emphasizes Being 100% ABLE!
21 delegates gather to grow in their leadership skills and disability pride  
Delegates of the 2018 KSYLF take a group photo in the Capital
Delegates from the 2018 Kansas Youth Leadership Forum gather for a group photo in the State Capital.
The Kansas Youth Leadership Forum has always emphasized that youth with disabilities are ABLE. This year, though, this message was heard loud and clear as the week centered on the theme of "50% Determination + 50% Action= 100% ABLE." Twenty-one delegates learned to embrace their abilities and push forward as leaders throughout the 2018 KSYLF week. They learned that EVERYONE is able with the right combination of determination and action. This message was a part of all of the week's activities and speakers... and what a week it was!

The 18th annual Forum was held on July 9 - 14, 2018 at Washburn University in Topeka. Twenty-one strong, determined young leaders with disabilities attended the Forum. There were 18 staff members present throughout the week, including five KSYLF alumni who returned to serve as volunteers and share their experiences.

A group of delegates from the 2018 KSYLF smile and get close together for a photo after the dance Every KSYLF year is unique and different, and this year was no exception! The delegates kept us on our toes for the whole week, and truly impressed our staff with their leadership potential. The week was full of lots of laughter, fun times, serious moments, emotional breakthroughs, growth, and new friendships. This year's group of delegates was very supportive of each other. The delegates learned to really be open about their disabilities and embrace each other's differences.
One of the highlights of the week was keynote speaker Stephanie West-Potter. Stephanie currently works for the Disability Rights Center of Kansas. She is a person with mental health disabilities and shared her powerful story of dealing with the ups and downs of this disability to reach her goals. Stephanie, along with our other speakers and volunteers, showed this year's delegates that they truly are 100% ABLE!
Three Leaders Recognized at Mentor Luncheon
No KSYLF Mentor Luncheon is complete without giving out our annual awards! This year, KYEA honored three outstanding people who are making a difference in our state.

Gabe Mullen takes a photo with Carrie and Julia while holding his award The Justin Cosco Award was presented to Gabe Mullen, 2015 KSYLF Alumni, who has shown tremendous leadership growth in many aspects of his life. Gabe is currently majoring in political science at KU, works for the Dole Institute of Politics as an archive student assistant, and is participating in our 2018 Faces of Change program.

Chrisi Reif-Fuhrman takes a photo with Carrie and Julia while holding her award The Spirit of Hope Award, in memory of John Peterson, was given to Chrisi Reif-Fuhrman. Chrisi is currently the transition coordinator for the Reno County Education Cooperative and previously worked at Nickerson High School. She has a passion for working with students with disabilities and always has high expectations for them.

Dot Nary takes a photo with Carrie and Julia while holding her award The Mentoring Matters Award was given to long-time advocate Dot Nary. Dot has been an advocate in the Kansas disability community for years and currently works for the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at KU. She was specifically recognized, though, for her efforts to support and mentor college students as the faculty advisor of the AbleHawks and Allies at KU.
Pre-ETS Empower Me! Workshops Start Back Up Across the State
KYEA marks it's 7th stop in Parsons 
Guess what? Pre-ETS Empower Me! workshops are back! KYEA and Pre-ETS (Pre-Employment Transition Services) took a break over the summer as most students were not in school, but now these awesome all-day employment workshops are back and taking KYEA staff across the state again. August brought about our 7th Pre-ETS workshop...

Stop #7... Parsons! A bit smaller group than our usual workshops, but still as impactful and fun! Fourteen youth from Parsons, Pittsburg, Fredonia, Neodesha, Thayer, Oswego, and Girard gathered on August 30 for a day of employment exploration. The youth learned from an impactful panel, various hands on activities and role playing, mock interviews, and more.

Youth participants and KYEA staff and PreETS staff in Parsons gather for a group photo
Youth participants, KYEA staff, and Pre-ETS staff gather for a group photo during the Empower Me workshop in Parsons.

KYEA staff enjoyed travelling to the southeast part of the state and getting to work with the Pre-ETS staff that were there! A big thanks to them for helping make the day so smooth. Also, a big thanks to the volunteers and panel members who were a part of the day. And thanks to the awesome youth who we met in Parsons!
We are planning for many more Empower Me! workshops in the coming months. Our next stop will be El Dorado on September 28. If you are a Pre-ETS consumer, talk to your specialist about attending!
We are currently hiring for a new staff member to coordinate these Empower Me workshops. Our Employment Specialist position is available. Check it out!

New beginnings. Do you like 'em or hate 'em? Maybe a little of both? With a new school year brings the feeling of starting something new. Starting school is not the only thing that can be new though! Maybe you're starting a new job, or a new hobby, or a new volunteer experience. Remember, change can help us grow.
"You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety."  --Abraham Maslow
Spotlight On!
Starting something new... 
Rachel Bell, Rosalia 

Rachel Bell wearing sunglasses and relaxing on a boat

Did you know that changing a habit or starting something new to help yourself is a form of self-care? Rachel Bell is discovering this herself. She is using new self-care tactics to improve her well-being. Read how this busy young woman has made positive changes... it might inspire you to do the same!    
by Dallas Hathaway, Faces of Change alumni  
Trying something new can be difficult. From starting a new job, tasting a new food, or beginning a new hobby, struggles can happen along the journey. Self-care is important when starting a new task or tackling an emotional situation. Current Faces of Change participant, and former KSYLF Alumni 2016, Rachel Bell, became aware of self-care techniques following a presentation from a guest speaker during a weekend at the Faces program. 
Rachel has dyslexia. She is currently a nanny for three children of a family friend. Using her self-care plan, Rachel developed goals for her life including family, relationships, and physical health. 
"I try to chill out for 15-20 minutes per night," Rachel said. "If I do not take time for self-care, then I cannot take time for myself." Rachel also spends time with her family members and focuses on her physical health by walking. 
Rachel's self-care plan has also helped her identify the need to be more open with others and ask for help when she needs it. 
"I am working on opening up more and telling others how I feel," Rachel said. 
Although asking for help can still be difficult for Rachel, she feels her self-care plan holds her accountable as she continues to practice the techniques. 
I asked Rachel what advice she would give to someone who wanted to try something new. She suggested they could go online and attempt to locate a support group. Once they feel comfortable, they could then try talking with someone in the organization for additional information. 
I had a great time interviewing Rachel and learning about her story. Remembering to focus on self-care can be challenging, but a little progress can make a big difference. I would like to thank Rachel for taking the time to share her story with me. 
Want to get motivated?
A man wearing head phones around his neck with his hands on his head against a colorful background Music can have an impact in so many ways. It can definitely motivate us to action! Check out this list of songs that we have compiled to get you pumped to start something new!

compiled by Whit Downing, Administrative Assistant
1. Read All About It by Emeli Sande
I chose this song because it is really inspiring and it talks about overcoming your fears, speaking up for yourself, and sharing your story.

2. Start of Something Good by Daughtry
I chose this song because it acknowledges that life has its ups and downs, but it also gives us hope in regards to love and relationships.

3. Unbreakable Smile by Tori Kelly
I chose this song because it is extremely uplifting. It talks about hope, making a difference, and critics.

4. Fight Song by Rachel Platten
I chose this classic song because, as we start something new, we need to be strong and realize that we've got what it takes even if others don't see it or believe it.

5. Rise Up by Andra Day
This song is encouraging for someone who is starting something new. The theme behind the song is "rising up" despite life's struggles.

6. Roar by Katy Perry
This song is ah-mazing! It helps you channel your inner strength! Which is very important to do when starting something new.

7. Marchin On by OneRepublic
Marching on (forward). Enough said!

8. Brave by Sara Bareilles
This is another classic song that can be encouraging in the midst of starting something new. Saying what you want to say and trying something new is extremely brave.

9. I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas
Attitude is important and if you're worried about starting something new, this song can help you get a more positive attitude. Tonight's gonna be a good night!

10. Don't You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia
This song is comforting. Don't worry!
"Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do s o."  -Doris Lessing
Introducing... KYEA's New Intern!
Josh Ruoff shares his tips for being successful in a new internship
by Josh Ruoff, KYEA intern and KSYLF Alumni 2012 

Josh Ruoff smiling next to his desk
There's a new face at KYEA! Hello, my name is Josh Ruoff. I am a student intern from Washburn University. I will be at KYEA for the 2018-19 school year. Why did I choose KYEA? I am a 2012 KSYLF alum. I have built relationships with everyone here. So, I don't have to spend a lot of time getting to know people, and can get straight to work helping the youth we serve. The work that KYEA does is what I have always dreamed of doing. I was born with Spina Bifida and was provided with so many resources and opportunities to help me be successful. Nothing brings me greater joy than helping provide opportunities for people with disabilities to reach their full potential. 
Having a new Internship has been a roller coaster of emotions. In just a few short months, I will be done going to school forever! However, not going to school anymore means finding a full time job, paying my own bills, and everything else that comes with adulthood. If I do not take steps to take care of myself, all of this can put a toll on my mental, emotional, and physical health. With the new school year, you are experiencing lots of new things... new teachers, maybe even a new school. Perhaps you just started a new job. I thought I would share a few tips on how I have tried to make my new experience easier for me: 
1. Have a positive attitude: your attitude will determine how you perform.   
2. Ask questions: You are not expected to know everything.  
3. Have fun! This period of your life will never happen again. Don't take it for granted!  
Remember that KYEA is cheering for you and here to help in any way that we can!
A fist in the air ADVOCACY CORNER
A new feature where you can speak up and speak out!  

Check out our new space in the newsletter where people with disabilities can share what needs to be changed in our communities. This month's topic:
change can't happen without advocacy and advocacy comes in many forms! 
by Julia Connellis, KYEA Executive Director
Have you ever been afraid to advocate? Does thinking about standing up for yourself or others make you sick to your stomach? At KYEA, we understand your struggle. We, at the office, feel comfortable with traditional advocacy (protesting, giving testimony at the legislature, speaking up at a meeting, etc). What we have discovered is that advocacy can come in so many different forms, which means there might just be a way for you to advocate and feel comfortable doing it! Below are just a few examples:
  1. Wearing t-shirts with a meaningful message on it.
  2. Writing a letter/e-mail/text to someone expressing your feelings or concerns about something.
  3. Being open to answering other people's questions about your disability.
  4. Writing and sharing a poem.
  5. Sharing a song with someone that means something to you.
  6. Recording a video sharing how you feel about something.
  7. Posting your concerns, opinions, or passion on social media.
  8. Sharing posts on social media that mean something to you or someone else.
  9. Hosting a fundraising event for someone or an organization.
  10. Volunteering for an organization or event that is important to you or someone else.
This list is just a start and is, by no means, all encompassing. Can you think of more ways to express advocacy? Can you find something on this list that you feel comfortable with? If you are currently advocating for yourself or someone else, shoot me an e-m ail at with the subject line of "advocacy corner" and your story just might be published in our next newsletter! Like Justin Dart always said, "Lead on!"
News and Events
Opportunities in Kansas
- DON'T FORGET! October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month! During this month, many cities in our state have Disability Mentoring Day for youth with disabilities. These events are designed to prepare you for employment through various activities and hands on exploration. If you would like to get involved in your area's DMD, contact KYEA at 785-215-6655, and we will connect you with your local DMD coordinator, or take a look at our CIL calendar to the right and your city may be on it.
- A KSYLF alumni, Josh Edwards, is starting a new project for school, and he is looking for youth who are willing to submit self videos. Josh's project is called Outliers Unlimited and it's purpose is to promote acceptance and independence for youth with disabilities. With this project, Josh is starting a YouTube channel where he will post videos from youth with disabilities in our state. The videos must be from youth in high school, up to age 25. If you have a message that you would like to share, email your video t o . Stay tuned to the Outliers Unlimited facebook page for more information and questions to include in your self interview v ideo. View facebook page   
- An election is right around the corner! Want to know where the candidates stand on issues important to people with disabilities? If you are in or near Topeka, attend Topeka Independent Living Resource Center's upcoming Candidate Forum. The Forum will be held September 18 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Garfield Shelter House (1600 N.E. Quincy St.). For more information, contact Evan at 785-233-4572.

- Families Together is hosting another Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT), this time in Hutchinson. This FREE two-day training is designed for families, youth/young adults who have disabilities and/or special health care needs, and the professionals who support them. The trainings are interactive and informative, and show that employment is possible for youth with disabilities. The Hutchinson training will be held September 22 and 28. Learn more

- Are you a youth with ADHD? Then you might check out this new resource called ADHDKC Teen! ADHDKC has been around for awhile, but they now have resources specifically for youth themselves. Then even have interesting speakers and events! Their next session will be October 2 and will focus on relationships in people with ADHD. Learn more 
- Are you on an HCBS waiver? Would you like to provide feedback on the waiver? The Kansas Dept. for Aging and Disability Services has been hosting public forums to get information about how the waivers are working as they prepare to renew them. If you have not been able to attend in person, they will be having two conference calls on September 17, so you can still join in.    
- CLO is providing new and exciting art opportunities for youth with disabilities in the Kansas City area! They are now offering a SatARTday program that is open to students with disabilities in 7th through 12th grade. This program provides classes on visual arts, theatre, music appreciation, dance, and more! If you love the arts, this is perfect for you!     
Opportunities on a National Level
- Are you a youth worker? Youth Move National is conducting a workforce development survey to gain information about people throughout the U.S. who work with youth. This includes youth coordinators, youth program managers, youth mentors, youth employment coaches or specialists, youth leaders, young adult advocates, etc. You could even win a gift card! Take the survey

- Nominate someone for AAPD's Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Awards! The American Association of People with Disabilities recognizes outstanding emerging leaders with disabilities who demonstrate 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 or initiative that increases the political and economic power of people with disabilities. Applications are due by October 1, 2018. Learn more

- If you have an interest in having an internship in Washington, DC next summer, then consider applying for the AAPD Summer Internship Program! Each summer, AAPD places college students, graduate students, law students, and recent graduates with all types of disabilities in summer internships with Congressional offices, federal agencies, non-profits, and for-profit organizations in the Washington, DC area. Each intern is matched with a mentor who will assist them with their career goals. AAPD provides the interns with a living stipend, transportation to and from Washington, DC, and fully-accessible housing. The application deadline is November 5. Learn more

- The National Organizing Project is looking for stories from people with disabilities about community living and the ADA. They will use these stories when talking with legislators in DC about issues facing people with disabilities. Share your story about being in an institution or successfully getting out of one, or share about barriers to full participation in society or how the ADA is working. Send your story to
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Keep up to date on the latest KYEA happenings, help us connect with you, and meet other youth with disabilities around the state!


Be on the lookout for our next issue that will come out in December!
Thanks for reading our newsletter this month! Learn more about KYEA by going to our website at!

Let us know what you think about our newsletter! If there is anything that we can do to make our newsletter more accessible or more interesting to you, please call us at 785-215-6655 so we can make the change for next time.
Carrie Greenwood
Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy
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Sharing all things new in our KYEA world...
KS Youth Leadership Forum Seeking 2019 Applicants!  
KSYLF dove logo It's that time again! KYEA is currently searching for potential youth leaders to attend our 19th Annual Kansas Youth Leadership Forum (KSYLF). 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 2019 KSYLF will be held July 8-13 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, 2018
- have demonstrated leadership potential in school and the community

Interested students must fill out an application that will be reviewed through a competitive selection process. The application deadline for the 2019 forum is December 15, 2018.

Don't miss out on this amazing week of empowerment, leadership growth, new experiences, and making new friends! 
Faces of Change 2018 Class Coming to An End... want to be a part of the next class? 
Faces of Change logo with a face that has arrows around it The Faces of Change program is now quickly coming to the end of its 3rd year!  With 7 young adult team members holding strong, which include: Ashlee Thao (Wichita), Gabe Mullen (Lawrence), Makayla Hollerich (Concordia), Nicole Burke (Junction City), Noah Whiteside (Newton), Rachel Bell (Rosalia), and Sean Tyree (Topeka). The mentioned team members have been working tirelessly on Community Change Projects such as:
  • Free listening support group for freshman at Wichita State University
  • Voter registration drive
  • Appreciation baskets for area firefighters, EMT's and police officers
  • Handing out rocks with positive quotes written on them for encouragement
  • Food drive
  • Diaper drive
  • Advocacy group for youth with disabilities

These projects have made change and left an impact on the community they served.  


Does making change sound intriguing to you?  We will begin recruitment for our 4th class in November and would love to see an application from you!  If you are a young adult with or without a disability between the ages of 16 and 25 and are interested in learning about leadership, visit our website at the link below for an application or e-mail 

to learn more.  You will not regret it!
In Loving Memory of Roger Frischenmeyer
Roger Frischenmeyer smiling for the camera It is with great sadness that we share with you the passing of our friend and freedom fighter, Roger Frischenmeyer on August 11th. Roger had a long history in the independent living movement, as well as with us at KYEA. Roger volunteered for the Kansas Youth Leadership Forum for 16 years, was a board member for many years, and has mentored countless KYEA youth. His commitment to youth empowerment was unwavering. His belief of freedom and rights for all was deep rooted. Most of all, his friendship and support to many is priceless. Thank you to Prairie Independent Living Resource Center and Roger's family for sharing him with us for so many years. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his family during this tough time. At KYEA, we will strive to keep his legacy alive with every youth we serve.  
We love you and will miss you Roger!
Roger and Julia dancing at KSYLF while delegates look on 
Madonna- a fluffy white poodle wearing a pink and purple bow
Madonna's Corner!

Our therapeutic manager needs help deciding if she should change her ways...    

Like people, Madonna has choices everyday. These days, she is trying to figure out whether or not to stop begging for food... choices, choices! Read below and see what you think.    
There is something this pooch has been pawondering (pondering) for some time now, and I hope all of you can give me a paw (hand).  At 11:30 am each work day, my people and I head to our kitchen to eat lunch.  While everyone is getting their food bowls ready with delicious human food, I make sure I keep an eye on things.  I follow people around while they prepare their meal.  I stop at each person's place setting to make sure their meal is prepared appropriately.  I show my pearly white smile at each person and I even try to sit in their lap while they are eating.  Ok, ok... my main reason for this is to hope and wish someone- anyone- will give me a piece of food.  But, what happens is that momma scolds me for begging!  If she only knew how dry and boring tasting my doggie food really was, she would understand why I NEED human food!  But wait, I have not even gotten to the confusing part.  When I stop begging, and I am just sitting on a chair or just walking around the table, my people start giving me pieces of their food, including mommy!  So, of course, I get dogfused (confused) because mommy does not want me munching on human food, but then she gives me some... do you see my doglema (dilemma)?  So, help a doggie out, would you?  Do I have to change my behavior and not beg or continue being my great self and beg, because I will get some scraps anyway?  Being a dog is so hard... I'm just saying.  If only I could walk on 2 legs and make my own bowl.  Doggie pawroblems (problems)!

Have a Wagulous (fabulous) day!
Starting a College Experience 
Kansas youth shares how she has embraced going to college 
by Makayla Hollerich, KSYLF Alumna 2017 and Faces team member 

Makayla Hollerich standing in her dorm room with a Cloud County shirt on
My name is Makayla Hollerich. I'm 18 years old, and I go to Cloud County Community College in Concordia, KS. I'm excited for my new life in college and the journey that will come in the future. I am currently taking my Gen Ed's as I don't know what my major is at the moment. I wanted to get a good paying job in the future. The jobs I have been looking into deal with taking care of people with disabilities. I have had a connection with some people that have disabilities and they made me realize that I enjoy making them happy.  
I have been at Cloud County Community College for three weeks. It wasn't what I was expecting, but, so far, I am enjoying the changes. I am enjoying all of the friends that I have made through the short time I have been there. The classes aren't as bad as I thought they would be; for example, the math class I am taking is not hard for me. I highly recommend getting accommodations early, if needed, because they will help you succeed through college. Being at college has been an exciting adventure for me. I hope to gain more knowledge and learn how to be independent. 
School Comes in All Forms!
Local 8th grader shares his story about attending virtual school

Have you ever met someone who goes to school completely online? Well, Daniel Van Dalsem does, and he loves it! Learn more about how this school option allows this 8th grader to be successful in his education.

by Daniel Van Dalsem (assisted by Jen Van Dalsem)

Daniel Van Dalsem smiling for the camera For the past couple of weeks, while everyone else has gone to school, I have been doing school at home. My name is Daniel. I have autism, anxiety, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and juvenile onset arthritis. I like video games, penguins, Star Wars, and Marvel movies. I volunteer at KYEA and really enjoy helping the community.  I am 13 years old and in 8th grade and live in Topeka, Kansas.  I have a pet bunny named Loopy the Wonder Rabbit.  He is adorable and makes me happy when I see him do cute things like running in the living room.
I do my school at the dining room table.  I use my laptop and a couple of textbooks which are provided by the school.  My school is the Lawrence Virtual School.  It is an online public virtual school.  It is paid for by state tax dollars just like other public schools.  My teachers are Kansas certified teachers and are hired through the Lawrence Public School system.  To participate in Lawrence Virtual School, you must be a Kansas resident.  That means students who are part of the Lawrence Virtual School may be living anywhere in Kansas, in the United States, or even around the world, but they are still legally Kansas residents. These students might live in a missionary family, might be pursuing sports or other activities, or might have medical conditions like me.  I can attend live classes online, but the classes are also recorded for me to watch later if I choose.  I get to know my teachers through email, Blackboard, the phone, and through the classes.  I submit schoolwork online.  One pitfall of doing school online is not sticking with the schedule and falling behind in schoolwork.  However, the teachers and the adult at home should help you stay on track. 
Virtual school works well for me because I have frequent doctors' appointments and sometimes I don't feel good and need to rest.  Virtual school allows me to be more flexible with my schedule so I can do school when I am feeling my best and I don't have to worry about missing school for doctors' appointments.  Because I am a part-time wheelchair user, I don't have to worry about using my chair at a public-school building, and because of my autism and anxiety, I get go to school in a quiet and familiar environment where I can focus better on school work.  I still have friends and see people.  I attend social gatherings with my local homeschool community, I attend two history classes, I go to church, and I volunteer.  My favorite part of Lawrence Virtual School is that I can work ahead a little if I know I have an upcoming appointment; that way, I don't get behind in school.  I also like my teachers because they are nice and they help me if I need extra assistance. 
I definitely recommend Lawrence Virtual School to students who need a more flexible schedule and who are motivated to work at home.  I am thankful for the option of being a Lawrence Virtual School student and that my state supports my school. 
Question of the Month
What is the best and worst part of starting something new?
quotation mark The worst part- the fear of failure. The best part- at least you can say you did it rather than "what if?"
- Taylor Nguyen, KSYLF Alumna '18 and Faces Alumna '17

Worst part would be being nervous at first and being afraid to be a failure. Best part is when you realize you're doing it and you are not a failure and that there is nothing to be afraid of and at the end you are so glad that you tried to do something new.
- Monica Long, KSYLF Alumna '11

I have learned in college that, because everything and everyone around you is new, there are tons and tons of opportunities to do things. The worst thing is that you could fail to take one and regret it later. The best thing about doing new things is that when you find these opportunities and take them, they are always so much fun and  reward you with something quotation markmore than what you started with.
- Ashlee Thao, KSYLF Alumna '17 and Faces team member
A Disability Can Be New Too
High school student shares how her new disability has brought changes and a desire to advocate 
New experiences do not always happen by our choosing. Sometimes, they can come in the form of our bodies changing. Josulyn Salsbury has had many new experiences due to her fairly new disability, but this has also increased her opportunities to advocate.
by Josulyn Salsbury, student at Shawnee Heights in Topeka 

Josulyn Salsbury smiling with a flower in her hair
Hi everyone, my name is Josulyn Salsbury.  I am 15 years old, and I have a disability.  I've had migraines since I was about 9 years old, but was a typically developing girl.  Then, when I was in the 8th grade, I had mononucleosis and was very sick.  I had daily headaches and sometimes I would get dizzy.  At the end of that year, I was so dizzy that I couldn't walk and I became very weak and had to use a wheelchair to get around.  It lasted for a couple of months and then I was the normal me- walking, hanging out with my friends, and feeling pretty good.  Last year, it all began again, only this time, it was worse.  At one point, I could not move any of my limbs and was totally reliant upon others for everything. Thankfully, I have made some improvement.  I currently have sensation loss over most of my body, am blind in one eye and don't see very well out of the other, and I have leg paralysis, so I am in a wheelchair.  My disability is kind of complicated, though, because the doctors don't really know what it is. They think that I have a neurological autoimmune disorder. I have also been diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder due to my medical issues.  Although my brain is currently structurally okay, my neurons are misfiring and may be making some of my symptoms worse.

It has been really hard to go from a typically functioning teenager to one with a disability, and I have had a really hard time coming to terms with it and getting the accommodations I need. I lost most of my friends, am bullied, have been treated like a small child, and many other injustices have been done to me. I have dealt with these problems by accepting my disability as part of me and acknowledging that the people that are bullying me are just ignorant about disability because they have never been educated about it. I have also had help coping with my disability by having a therapist and through the support of my family and friends. I have received many great services from Family Service and Guidance Center.

My life has been drastically changed since the onset of my disability, for the good, but also for the not so good. I have seen who were fake friends and real friends and have made a few friends that accept me for who I am. I have gotten involved with the disability community and I have faced injustices that have made me a stronger person.

Some tips I have for handling a new disability are to be patient and positive. I think those are the two most important things because, if you aren't patient, you may get upset with yourself because improvements may take longer than expected... even small improvements may take a long time. I also think positivity is a really important thing because the improvement you make may not always be huge progress, or even noticeable to others, but rather, a small positive step in the healing process, such as, in my case, a tingling sensation in my fingers, where before, there was no sensation at all.  Remember, the old saying, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade" and see the positive in everything, making the best of every situation.  I hope that you have a great day and stay positive!
Community Power!
Circle with different types of disability logos
Highlighting centers for independent living throughout the state
Did you know that there is a place that you can go to get information about all different types of resources for people with disabilities? It's like a one-stop shop! Centers for independent living do just that, and, this month, one of our recent alumni explains all about the service of information and referral...

by Elizabeth Wright, KSYLF Alumna '18    

The Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC) was started in 1984 and has been in operation for 34 years. They work with people of all ages and disabilities including its staff of which 51% have a disability. One such person is Brian Ramsey, a staff member of fourteen years and a consumer advocate for ILRC. He can be reached at (316) 942-6300 ext. 209 or emailed at I spoke with Brian about Information and Referral, one of the five core services ILRC that all centers for independent living (CILs) provide, as well as about KYEA's relationship with ILRC. Information and Referral provides a source for people who are looking for resources in the community for benefits, insurance and utility payments. The other four core services are Peer Support, Advocacy, Deinstitutionalization and Skills Training. KYEA started years ago within a center for independent living, so, with that commonality, both organizations work closely together. In the past, they have worked on youth workshops together and ILRC has provided volunteers for the Kansas Youth Leadership Forum, which is put on by KYEA. To learn more about ILRC and its programs, go to or visit at 3033 W. 2nd St N., Wichita, KS 67203.
Blue calendar
CIL Calendar
Want to get involved with your local CIL? Here are exciting upcoming opportunities:

Independent Connection (Salina) 
Impact Hangouts- 
September 17
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
1710 W. Schilling (Conference Room 3)
*A group, for ages 14-24, led by youth for youth. Together you will decide the skills you would like to learn and Independent Connection will bring in the correct knowledge from the correct people.
For more information, contact April Rickman at 785-452-9580 ext 210.  
Topeka Independent Living Resource Center (Topeka)
Candidate Forum-
September 18
11:00 am to 2:00 pm 
Garfield Shelter House in Topeka
(1600 N.E. Quincy St.)  
Independence, Inc. (Lawrence) 
Science Fiction and Fantasy Club (viewing of movie Star Wars)-
November 19
2:00-4:00 pm
RSVP with Ranita by 9/17 @ 785-841-0333 ext. 115.

AUMI Jam (Adaptive Use Musical Instruments) 
November 25
4:30-6:00 pm
Lawrence Public Library
Remember to RSVP with Ranita.

Please contact Ranita about next month's Food Club and Movie Club since those have passed at the time of this newsletter.
Three Rivers, Inc. (Wamego)
Disability Mentoring Day 2018- For junior and senior high school and transition students  
Thursday, Oct 25  
Session 1: 9-11:30 am- Manhattan Public Library 
Session 2: 12:30-3:00 pm- Highland Community College (Wamego)
Any questions? Contact Amanda Peterson at

LINK (Hays)
There's a cool new collaboration that is happening between the LINK and Big Brothers and Sisters. Stay tuned for more collaboration between LINK and Pre-ETS (Pre-Employment Transition Services). Remember, they always have monthly consumer groups too. Contact Laura Denny at

Prairie Independent Living Resource Center (Hutchinson) 
Will have Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) events for Hutchinson (October 17) and Pratt (October 23) areas. PILR is another CIL ready to work with youth who are participants in Pre-ETS. 
*To have your CIL's event dates listed in future issues, contact Johnna at