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

Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy Newsletter
Issue #26
May 2014
in this issue
:: Congrats to Graduates!
:: KYEA Out on the Town
:: Spotlight On: Youth Graduations
:: Change: One Youth's Perspective
:: State and National Opportunities
:: KYEA Updates
:: High School vs. College... What's the Difference?
:: 10 Opportunities for Having a Blast This Summer
:: Question of the Month

Happy Summer!! It's finally here! For those of you who have been in school, you are probably feeling a great sense of relief. Summer is a time for relaxation for most. For those of us at KYEA, summer is our busiest time of year! We have lots going on around here... read below for all of our latest news. While summer means fun, sunshine, and vacations, it also generally marks the end of something and the beginning of something else... we call this change or transition.

Many of you have recently graduated or will at least be moving up to a new grade next year. This means change is around the bend. Some people love change, while others hate it. While transitioning into a new phase can be difficult, it can also be exciting! You never know what is out there waiting for you. So, we are dedicating this month's issue to the topic of change and transition. We have lots of congrats to give out (see below). This month, we are also featuring lots of personal stories of youth who have, or are currently, experiencing change. Of course we bring you lots of opportunities to get involved and tools for transitioning to the college world. And, we've included a little summer fun as well!

Enjoy our May issue and have a fabulous, exciting, fun summer! We know WE will!

- Carrie Greenwood, Program Coordinator 
"Change is life giving. It helps us grow into someone greater than we already are."


Life changes. We grow, we choose new paths, we move on to other things. Change can be hard, but it can also be life giving! When we transition into a new phase in our life, exciting experiences, new friends, and helpful lessons are right around the corner. This is the time of year where things are ending and new paths are forming. We wanted to take some time to congratulate all of you who have recently completed one path of your journey...


graduation cap and scroll CONGRATS to all of our alumni, volunteers, and friends who have recently graduated school!


CONGRATS to our two ICON interns, Kenyatta and Harry, who will be finishing up their internships very soon, and to our ICON, Dezarae, who will be completing her first internship and beginning a second internship at KYEA!


CONGRATS to our two Washburn interns, Sydney and Rachel, who both recently graduated from Washburn University! Both of these ladies have been with KYEA for many years and are now moving on to new, exciting phases in their lives. We will miss you both!

KYEA Staff Go Out on the Town!

KYEA staff and youth recently busted a move at the University of Kansas AbleHawks AccessiBALL in Lawrence. Staff, interns, and friends spent the evening dancing, getting to know other attendees, and enjoying a night of fun! Check out this picture captured right before the dance...


KYEA staff and youth are dressed up and ready for the dance

(front row, l-r) Carrie and Kenyatta

(back row, l-r) Amber, Trey, Dezarae, and Johnna  

Spotlight On! 
Youth Graduating from High School:
Chalyce Leaton, Sacred Heart High School, Salina


by Amber Meaux, ICON Intern  

It's graduation time! Graduation is a big accomplishment. It means working hard for something, completing it, and then moving on to a new chapter in life. Many of our youth recently graduated, and here, we put the spotlight on two of them!
Chalyce poses for her senior picture


Chalyce Leaton, KSYLF Alumna '13, graduated from Sacred Heart High School in Salina, Kansas on May 11, 2014. Her plans for the future are to go to Kansas Wesleyan University and graduate with a Bachelor's degree in nursing. She then hopes to go on to work at the hospital. In high school, Chalyce said that it took her longer to get her work done, but the important thing is that it did get done, and she has made it closer to becoming a nurse.


When asked how she felt about graduating, Chalyce said "I'm happy that it is done and a little scared of the future."


Chalyce said she is ready to begin the journey to becoming a nurse and knows she will have challenges, but with her ending goal in mind, she will get through it.

Youth Graduating from College:
Marcus Chavez, Washburn University, Topeka
Marcus at his graduation, wearing cap and gown, holding his diploma

After a 4-year long journey, Marcus Chavez, KSYLF Alumni '07, graduated from Washburn University with an Associate's degree in Applied Science. He now plans to find a job working with plants; he is really looking for a position at a greenhouse.

Marcus states that he is glad that he graduated. He feels that he has accomplished his goal, although he had some challenges getting to where he is.

Marcus stated, "I'm excited about my accomplishment. It has been a long journey, but I have succeeded. At times, I felt like giving up, but I realize that I've reached my goal, and I'm ready to work."

One thing is clear, with his fierce determination, Marcus will definitely find a job working at a greenhouse that he will love, and he will give it his all.
"Temperatures will rise and fall. Winds will shift. Leaves will drop and buds will form. And with every transition, new beginnings will be revealed."
There are many kinds of change and transition in life. One dramatic change in a person's life can be getting a disability unexpectedly. No one knows this better than Dezarae Marcotte. Read Dezarae's story of journeying from shock to growth to acceptance.


by Dezarae Marcotte, ICON Intern


Dezarae Marcotte "February 12, 2013 is the day that my test results came back. This is the day I was told that I have a rare condition known as Devic's. My doctor says on the phone that I should come and talk about what this means. I later learned that I was, in fact, legally blind and that this condition could also paralyze me as well. It is incurable and could result in an attack whenever, wherever. At this point in my life, I was an 18 year old freshman in college and a waitress who had just moved out on my own. I had a lease to keep up with, a test in Psych class, and I worked a double shift that weekend. I also had a boyfriend who I was afraid wouldn't love me anymore. The doc tells me to go home, pack a bag, and that I'm going to Kansas City. I was admitted to KU Med immediately. It was like a movie; it didn't seem real. I had never had any health problems before, and, in a matter of hours, I was hooked up to machines, given a special diet, and started chemotherapy.


Now, about a year and a half later, I am 20 with a life that did a complete 360! My life has adjusted to the cards I was dealt. After my diagnosis, I was down and out for a few months. I didn't know what to do with my life. How could I do anything if I couldn't read or write anymore? I couldn't hang with my friends, go out on the weekends like my peers, I basically couldn't do anything alone and by myself. I had an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Something was telling me that I was less of a woman. I felt like my independence was taken from me.


In August 2013, I got involved with KYEA through

my grandpa. Turns out this place wanted me!"

Continue reading 

News and Events


Opportunities in Kansas


- Do you know a Kansan who was a great advocate for people with disabilities in 2013? Nominate them for the Michael Lechner Award! This award is given annually to someone who has advocated for changes in his or her community to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Examples of such changes include improved physical or program access, employment opportunities, inclusion in the community, accessible parking, communication improvements, access to health care, and legislative advocacy. Learn more about the award


- Looking for some fun this summer? Check out the Rehabilitation Institute of Kansas City's "A Day at the Lake" to experience the thrill of adaptive water skiing, kayaking, and boating on Smithville Lake. This event is specifically geared toward people with disabilities and will be held July 11 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Get the full details 


- Youth with disabilities have a lot to say! One of our very own KSYLF alumni, Josh Edwards, definitely has a lot to say, and he even recently created his own "webshow" with one of his friends. Josh, who has Aspergers, hopes to use this new webshow to bring some disability-related topics to people. Check out their first episode! 



Opportunities on a National Level


- It may be summer, but it's never too late to start thinking about college and scholarships! Summer is the perfect time to work on scholarships. Check out this great new resource specifically for students with disabilities: "Making College Affordable- A Guide for Students with Disabilities." 


- The VSA Emerging Young Artists Program is now searching for great young artists with disabilities! The 2014 call for artwork is now open... submit yours! Emerging young visual artists with disabilities, ages 16-25, are invited to reflect on the theme The Journey. The deadline is June 30, 2014. Learn more 


- A research and training center in Virginia wants to hear from people with physical disabilities about their barriers to employment. Participants take part in 90-minute telephone focus groups about their work experiences. After completion, you may receive a $50 gift card. Learn more 
Facebook logo, a blue square with a white lowercase Check Us Out on Facebook!
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 August issue focused on preparing for a new school year!
Thanks for reading our newsletter this month! Learn more about KYEA, and consider donating, by going to our website at!

Let us know what you think about our newsletter! If there is anything that we can do to make our newsletter more accessible to you, please call us at 785-215-6655 so we can make the change for next time.

Carrie Greenwood
Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy

KYEA Updates

Sharing all things new in our KYEA world... 


KYEA Fundraiser Garage Sale and Bake Sale coming up this Saturday! 


Garage sale with arrow pointing rightIt's garage sale time! Yes, that's right, the KYEA Fundraiser Garage and Bake Sale is right around the corner. Stop by our office this Saturday to explore all of our great garage sale items. We have lots of items available including technology, furniture, games and toys, home d�cor, and much more! If you are not into garage sale items, maybe you enjoy baked goods... we will have lots of baked goods available as well. All proceeds from the garage sale and bake sale will come directly to support KYEA programs that empower youth with disabilities in our state. The garage sale fundraiser will take place this coming Saturday, May 31 from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm at our office parking lot located at 517 SW 37th St. in Topeka. We hope to see you there!


Do you like to bake? We are still in need of lots of baked good items to sell. Bake sale items, including cookies, pies, cakes, breads, cupcakes, etc, can be dropped off from May 28-30 at our office. We appreciate your support!



KSYLF selects 22 motivated youth leaders from across the state


KSYLF logo with dove We have selected our Kansas Youth Leadership Forum delegates for our 14th annual event! Twenty-two motivated young leaders from across the state have been selected to attend the 2014 forum. Approximately 23 staff members will be in attendance as well, including 7 alumni. This year's KSYLF will be held July 15 - 19 at Washburn University in Topeka.


The theme for this year's Forum will be "I am UNSTOPPABLE!" The delegates will learn to work through barriers in order to accomplish their goals. They will also learn to believe in themselves and in their individual abilities. Ultimately, the delegates will leave with the tools and attitude to be "unstoppable" in their daily lives.


A diverse group of delegates were selected to attend the 2014 KSYLF, including students from a variety of cities in Kansas with a wide range of disabilities. Congrats to all of those who were selected!


Read the full press release



Support the Kansas Youth Leadership Forum: Donate goodies and supplies


Donate KYEA needs your help! It's almost time for our annual Kansas Youth Leadership Forum! We are in need of supplies and goodies for our week-long program coming up in July. We are asking for donations of backpack goodies (disposable cameras, key chains, notebooks, etc.), give away prizes, art supplies, dance decorations, pop, snacks, and gift cards. Any kind of donations are appreciated, so if you have other items not listed above, contact us, and we will let you know if we can use them! Donations can be dropped off at the KYEA office, or we can come and get them from you. For more information, contact Carrie at 785-215-6655 or

High School vs. College:
What's the Difference?   
So, you've just graduated high school... now what? Did you know that you have lots of options? You can go straight to work, you can enroll in a technical school, you can go to a college... it's completely up to you! If you do decide to go to a technical school or college, it will be very different from high school. Read this article to explore your options and learn the differences between high school and college as a student with a disability.
"Taking the Next Step: Life After High School"

Graduates throw caps in the airfrom the National Youth Leadership Network--

It can be difficult to decide what you are going to do after high school. It may also be scary. You may not know how to find out about your options. Remember that you can always ask the adults in your life for help. Your teachers, school counselors, and vocational rehabilitation counselors are all there to help. Older friends and family members who have already graduated may also be able to offer advice from their experiences.


For students with disabilities, going from high school to college means following a different set of rules that apply to your disability. To get ready, students need to learn what the different rules are.

Read the full article 

10 Opportunities for Having a Blast This Summer! 
summer fun graphic with beach ball, sun, and umbrella Summer is here! Now what are you going to do over the next two months? Take some time to relax, but also take some time to have fun and get involved. There are great activities available throughout our state. Pick one and get involved!

1. Learn how to ride a bike
Does your disability make it hard for you to learn how to ride a bike? Participate in the iCan Bike program and get out there with the rest of them!


2. Use your passion and volunteer
There are lots of great organizations who could use your help. Think of your passion and interests and find a place that fits you. Check out these top 20 community service ideas!


3. Attend a summer camp
Why not spend a week of your summer meeting people, doing activities, and being on your own? There are camps for youth of all ages. There are even camps that bring together people with similar disabilities.


4. Go on vacation
Sometimes you just need to get away! Take a couple of days and visit a nearby city or hop on a plane and experience another state that you've always wanted to visit. People with disabilities can definitely travel! Check out these great travel sites.


5. Take a summer college course
Planning to start college in the fall? Get a jump start by taking a class in the summer. Don't want to take a college class? Consider a specialized fun class, like an art course or a computer course.


6. Try out a new piece of assistive technology
Summer usually means lots of free time. Use that free time to learn a new piece of assistive technology! Maybe you've wanted to explore apps on your iPad or maybe you need to learn how to use a screen reader. This is the time to do it!


7. Get some exercise
We all could probably use more exercise. There are lots of opportunities... check out your local YMCA or YWCA, go swimming at a local pool, or try out adapted recreation programs through Parks and Recreation.


8. Read a good book
This one is rated E for EVERYONE! All people can read in some way. You might have to use Braille or a screen reader, but that's okay! Find a good book and dive into it.


9. Be a mentor
There is always someone younger than you who could use some encouragement and support. Find a young person and spend some time with them.


10. Find a new hangout place
Expand your social life! Try out a new coffeehouse. Find a new park. Walk around the mall. You never know who you might meet. Take a chance and get out there this summer!


And one more just because...


11. Volunteer with KYEA!
We need YOU! What could be better than spending time with the lovely ladies at KYEA this summer? Volunteer at our upcoming garage sale. Help out around the office. Assist with preparing for upcoming programs. There is always something to do, and we could use your help! 

Question of the Month
What are your plans for the summer?

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I am going to camp this summer.
- Corey Shelton, KSYLF Alumni '10


I'm getting my endowment next month!  

- Allison Wilkes, ICON Alumna


Work. Going to Ohio for my cousin's graduation party, things for my brother's wedding in December, [volunteering at] YLF, and my birthday.
- Katie Horrell, KSYLF Alumna '12


I am going out of town or a few days and, the rest of the summer, I really don't know.
- Jessica DeHerrera-Brower, KSYLF Alumna '13


I'm going to go see my family in Texas in June and then go to the Dream Center to do some mission work in Los Angeles in July.
- Rochelle Kinney, KSYLF Alumna '05


Hopefully go swimming. I haven't been swimming for 5 years.
- Monica Long, KSYLF Alumna '11


I'm going to Job Corp in Manhattan.
- Lane Chambers, KSYLF Alumni '13


Planning to work, try and get with a few friends and go to Illinois in July.
- Kyle Christine, KSYLF Alumni '11


I'm going to my cousin Anna's wedding in June.
- Amber Dipman, ICON and Ambassadors Alumna

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I'm going to Iowa next Thursday to get my dog and, in July, we are going to visit my sister and husband in Florida!!
- Kammi Bennett, KSYLF Alumna '11