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Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy Newsletter
Issue #46
December 2018
in this issue
:: Through Julia's Eyes
:: Pre-ETS Empower Me Workshops Held in 3 More Locations
:: Top 10 KYEA Moments of 2018
:: Spotlight On: Ariana Hutchinson
:: Wamego Student Pays it Forward in School
:: Holiday Traditions From Across the World
:: State and National Opportunities
:: KYEA News
:: KYEA on KSNT News!
:: Mentoring Matters Seeking Participants
:: I Want to Help People- What are my options?
:: The Importance of Helping
:: Question of the Month
:: Motivating Videos for the New Year
:: Community Power: Advocacy
:: CIL Calendar

An outdoor lamp covered in snow with a ribbon tied on it- blue lights twinkle in the background
Happy Holidays friends!! We hope that you have been enjoying these couple of months of non-stop holidays. It is the time of year to have fun and reflect on the many awesome things in our lives, but it is also a good time to think of others and give back. And so, this month's issue is focused on helping others! Oftentimes, people have a tradition this time of year to help others, so we have also thrown in a few articles on traditions.

As always, we have lots of exciting things going on at KYEA! We are recruiting for various programs, and we continue to be on the road hosting our Pre-ETS Empower Me! workshops. Check out all of this below! In this issue, it is also time for our Top 10 KYEA Moments list... we love putting this list together and thinking back on the past year.

Speaking of the past year... another one has flown by! Each year, we are so blown away by the support that we receive from all of you. Thank you for being a part of our KYEA family! May the new year bring you a million joyful moments, personal growth, and many blessings. Look forward to seeing you all in 2019!

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

Growing up as a person with a disability, I was the recipient of help, whether it was someone helping me read something, getting a ride to where I needed to go, receiving therapy, taking medication, receiving government services, and the list could go on.  At a young age, I knew that I would always need some type of help.  What I did not realize, until I was around 23 years old, was that I had the ability to help others.

As a student at Washburn University, I was heavily involved in the Bonner Leader/AmeriCorps program.  This program provided students the opportunity to engage in community service/service learning over 4 years and then receive a scholarship at the end of service.  This program, and the person leading this program, Dr. Rick Ellis, changed my life!  I soon realized that it did not matter what my disabilities were because, no matter what, I had the capacity to help and give to others.  I had opportunities such as painting a youth recreational center, raising food for our local homeless community, cleaning up a local park, organizing a campus wide and student-led day of community service, and motivating students with disabilities at the Kansas Youth Leadership Forum.  This is what I learned about myself:
  • I am not the best at painting, but I can give out food, beverages, and encouraging words to help you get the work done.
  • I can load a vehicle with boxes of food, but I just cannot drive the vehicle.
  • I am great with coming up with ideas, but struggle a bit with the details to make it happen.
  • And finally, I love motivating and empowering youth with disabilities, and guess what?  I am good at it!
Here is the deal... everyone has the ability to help someone else no matter what.  Through this, you are not only helping someone else, but you are also helping yourself by discovering your strengths.  And, who knows, maybe that helping hand you give can lead you to a great career, relationship, friendship, and more!
KYEA and Pre-ETS Continue Workshops in 3 More Locations
KYEA continues to be on the road each month as we collaborate with Pre-ETS (Pre-Employment Transition Services) to conduct our Empower Me! workshops. We are having a blast as we visit various cities and meet youth from all over the state! Not only that, but we are able to expose so many young people with disabilities to the possibilities for employment. Working with Pre-ETS has been an exciting, very worthwhile partnership. 
Since our last newsletter, we have conducted three more Empower Me! workshops...

Stop #8... El Dorado! This workshop, attended by 12 youth, was held September 28. Youth from El Dorado, Rose Hill, Andover, and Derby gathered to learn about the ins and outs of employment. This unique day was complete with an unexpected community parade right outside of our workshop location!

Participants of the Pre-ETS Empower Me workshop in El Dorado gather for a photo.
Youth participants, KYEA staff, and Pre-ETS staff gather for a group photo during the Empower Me workshop in El Dorado.

Stop #9... Topeka! Not too much travelling was needed for this one! Twenty-three youth gathered at the DCF office on October 30. This was a lively group that came from a wide variety of cities, including Topeka, Wamego, Harveyville, Auburn, Alma, Eskridge, Scranton, Paxico, Rossville, and Silver Lake. An exciting part of the day-KSNT News stopped by to do a feature on KYEA! See link to the right.

Participants of the Pre-ETS Empower Me workshop in Topeka gather for a photo.
Participants, KYEA staff, and Pre-ETS staff smile for the camera during the Empower Me
workshop in Topeka.

Stop #10... Wichita! This workshop was especially fun as we have come full circle. Our first Pre-ETS workshop was in Wichita, and, a few weeks ago, we returned for a second round! On November 30, we held our 10th workshop attended by 15 youth. These youth came from the cities of Wichita, Cheney, Park City, and Bel Aire.

Participants of the Pre-ETS Empower Me workshop in Wichita gather for a photo.  Youth participants, KYEA staff, and Pre-ETS staff take a group picture during the Empower Me workshop in Wichita.

As always, we LOVE working with the Pre-ETS staff and thank them for helping make these workshops so successful. Also, thank you to the youth participants who have made our job so fun!
So, where are we headed next? Well, our next workshop will be in Kansas City in January, followed by Dodge City in February. 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!

View the job description
Top 10 KYEA Moments of 2018! 
Top 10 that looks like a trophy We cannot believe that 2018 is almost over! Time flies when you are having fun! Speaking of fun... throughout the year, KYEA staff have a ton of fun and make lasting memories. And so, every year, we compile our list of Top 10 KYEA Moments. Enjoy reading about our stand out memories from 2018 (in no particular order)!
1. Josh Ruoff, KSYLF Alumni '12, returning to KYEA as an intern... the circle of leadership! (All)

Rowdy Rodge- a stuffed animal pig- sits on the Senate President's desk in the Capital during the KSYLF. 2. Having "Rowdy Rodge" at the KSYLF- not quite the same as the real Roger, but the next best thing! (Julia)

3. Every Pre-ETS Empower Me! workshop... each unique and fun in their own way. (All)

4. A night out with staff and youth volunteers at the Topeka Pilots Game- hockey, dinner, and lots of laughs in one night! (Carrie)

Daniel Van Dalsem and Carrie smile before they present at an elementary school in Ottawa. 5. Getting to know and work with volunteers Daniel and Jen Van Dalsem throughout the year. (All) 

6. Catching up with KSYLF Alumni on their lives and progress on their goals. (Johnna)

7. Madonna Moments- Rosie finding Madonna's bone in her chair, being greeted with love and doggie kisses each day, etc. (All)  

Whit and Patrick take a selfie during a Faces of Change weekend. 8. Patrick's presentation at Faces of Change. He set the goal the year before and did it! (Rosie)

9. The KSYLF 2018 graduation ceremony- so many tears and a moment of absolute support amongst the delegates. (Carrie)

10. Whit making it to her one year anniversary at KYEA! (Johnna)
Spotlight On!
Helping Others Through Self-Advocacy and Volunteering
Ariana Hutchinson, 8th grader in Topeka

Ariana Hutchinson smiles and holds her flute. 
by Dallas Hathaway, Faces of Change Alumni  
Ariana Hutchinson, an 8th grader at Robinson Middle School, smiles for the camera while holding her flute. Ariana has Osteogenesis Imperfecta. This means her bones can break more easily. Ariana uses a wheelchair to help her get around safely in the community.

Ariana is a band member at her school.  She recently encountered trouble at another local middle school while she was there for a performance.  

"There were platforms with stairs in the band room, and there were also stairs to get on stage in the auditorium," she said.

Ariana had to get out of her wheelchair and use the stairs because the stage was not accessible.

Ariana decided to use this experience to help make a difference.  She contacted members of the local school board and the superintendent to tell them about what happened.  

"I was concerned about other wheelchair-mobile kids," she said. "Not everyone can get out of their wheelchair like I can."

Ariana received a response the very next day acknowledging her concerns.  She was later joined by the superintendent, who bought lunch for her and a group of friends.  She learned there would be an elevator installed in the auditorium in the near future. Thanks to Ariana's determination and willingness to help others, future students with disabilities will be able to access the stage.

For the last two years, Ariana has also participated with the Salvation Army's bell ringing program.  This year, she rang the bell at the Dillon's located at 29th and Urish on December 18.

Also, Ariana is the current titleholder of Little Miss Wheelchair Kansas.

"So far I have gotten to meet many wheelchair-mobile women and girls," she said.  During her time as Little Miss Wheelchair Kansas 2018, she hopes to "inspire little girls who think they don't have a voice, when they really can make a great change."

For those who are wanting to make a change, Ariana has some encouragement to offer: "don't let your fears keep you from making a difference, and never give up."

In her free time, Ariana enjoys taking care of her three cats and two dogs.  She also enjoys drawing and listening to her favorite music group, Twenty One Pilots.

Ariana is incredibly active and certainly enjoys helping others.  I am thankful I got to spend a few minutes getting to know Ariana and learning more about her journey. 
Paying It Forward All Year Long 
Wamego student helps her school by serving on the prom committee 
by Carrie Greenwood, Program Coordinator and Newsletter Editor
Alicia Moore Alicia Moore, Wamego High School senior and KSYLF Alumna 2018, likes to plan parties AND give back to the community. She has found a way to combine both of these interests by being involved on a fun planning committee at her school. Alicia serves on her school's prom committee.

"It's really fun. It's a party you can plan!" Alicia said.

As part of the prom committee, Alicia helps to brainstorm theme ideas that are then voted on by the junior class. She also helps pick out decorations and set up on the day of prom. She served on this committee last year, but also agreed to step up and serve again this year. Normally, the junior class plans prom, but they did not have enough volunteers, so a few seniors, including Alicia, decided to help out as well.

Alicia loves picking out decorations and helping to plan an event that everyone can enjoy.

"I wanted to help the junior and senior class attend something fun to do... something my whole class would like," Alicia said.

Not only does she enjoy planning an event, but Alicia also feels that it is important to help out and pay it forward. She does this by being involved on this committee and in other clubs at school.

"If you help somebody, they will want to help someone else," Alicia said.

Alicia is also involved in the KAY Club and FCCLA at her school. Both of these clubs have a focus on community service and leadership. These are things that Alicia is passionate about as she loves helping the community. She encourages others to do the same.

"It will make you have a good feeling by giving back to people," Alicia said.
CELEBRATION... Holiday Traditions From Across the World
There are celebrations all over the world this time of year! Most of us know about Christmas, but did you know about other traditions across the world? There are some pretty interesting things going on this time of year in different countries. Check out this interesting article that we found on the web... maybe you'll get to experience one of these someday.  
"11 weird and wonderful Christmas traditions from around the world"
excerpt from momondo.com

Saint Nicholas Day in Germany
It's the most wonderful time of the year. For a couple of weeks every year the world takes on a magic glow, people seem merrier and even winter somehow feels cosy.

Whether you're celebrating a religious festival, like Hanukkah or Christmas, or a more secular occasion, you're sure to have your own selection of rituals or customs that make the holiday season so special. Our favorite Christmas traditions around the world are loud, proud, and guarantee oodles of festive fun.  
Giant Lantern Festival, Philippines 
The Giant Lantern Festival is held each year on the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the city of San Fernando - the "Christmas Capital of the Philippines." The festival attracts spectators from all over the country and across the globe.

Gävle Goat, Sweden 
Since 1966, a 13-metre-tall Yule Goat has been built in the center of Gävle's Castle Square for the Advent, but this Swedish Christmas tradition has unwittingly led to another "tradition" of sorts - people trying to burn it down.

Krampus, Austria 
In Austrian tradition, St. Nicholas rewards nice little boys and girls, while Krampus is said to capture the naughtiest children and whisk them away in his sack.

Kentucky Fried Christmas Dinner, Japan 
Christmas has never been a big deal in Japan. Aside from a few small, secular traditions such as gift-giving and light displays, Christmas remains largely a novelty in the country. However, a new, quirky "tradition" has emerged in recent years - a Christmas Day feast of the Colonel's very own Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The Yule Lads, Iceland 
In the 13 days leading up to Christmas, 13 tricksy troll-like characters come out to play in Iceland. The Yule Lads visit the children across the country over the 13 nights leading up to Christmas.

Saint Nicholas' Day, Germany 
Not to be confused with Weihnachtsmann (Father Christmas), Nikolaus travels by donkey in the middle of the night on December 6 (Nikolaus Tag) and leaves little treats like coins, chocolate, oranges and toys in the shoes of good children all over Germany, and particularly in the Bavarian region.

Perhaps one of the most unorthodox Christmas Eve traditions can be found in Norway, where people hide their brooms.

Lighting of National Hanukkah Menorah, Washington, D.C. - US 
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is celebrated with much fanfare across the United States with one of the most elaborate events taking place on a national stage. Since 1979, a giant nine-metre Menorah has been raised on the White House grounds for the eight days and nights of Hanukkah.

Visit Caracas, Venezuela this year. Every Christmas Eve, the city's residents head to church in the early morning, but, for reasons known only to them, they do so on roller skates.  
Day of the Little Candles, Colombia 
Little Candles' Day (Día de las Velitas) marks the start of the Christmas season across Colombia. In honour of the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception, people place candles and paper lanterns in their windows, balconies and front yards.

Cavalcade of Lights, Toronto 
In wintry, wonderful Toronto the annual Cavalcade of Lights marks the official start to the holiday season. The Square and Christmas tree are illuminated by more than 300,000 energy-efficient LED lights that shine from dusk until 11 pm until the New Year.

And there's more!
Want to learn about other holiday traditions from across the globe? Visit these other websites to learn even more interesting facts... 
News and Events
Opportunities in Kansas
- One of our KSYLF alumna, Rachel Mast, was recently featured on the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services blog! In the article, she shares how much she loves life, which is no surprise to us. Way to go, Rachel! Read the blog 
- A KSYLF alumni, Josh Edwards, is starting a new project, 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. Click here to watch a video about the project. 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 college students with disabilities, ages 18 to 25. If you have a message that you would like to share, email your video t o outliersunlimited2000@gmail.com . View the flyer 
- The KU Transition to Postsecondary Education (KU TPE) program is looking for students for Fall 2019. KU TPE is a 2-year undergraduate certificate program at the University of Kansas for students with intellectual disability. Students take KU courses for credit, participate in paid and unpaid career internships, and get the full college experience of participating in campus clubs and living in student housing. The deadline to apply is January 4. Learn more 
- Many of you may use a managed care organization (MCO) if you are on KanCare. Aetna is now an MCO option in Kansas and they are putting together some exciting projects that are specifically for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). They are hosting town halls, along with the Self-Advocate Coalition of Kansas, to share about these exciting approaches. There are two more town halls coming up in Olathe and Chanute. View the flyer  
- KUMC's Center for Physical Activity and Weight Management is looking for youth (13-21 years) and adults (18+) with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be in a research program on healthy eating, physical activity, and weight. Participants will: follow a healthy eating program, exercise, receive an iPad to use as part of the study, and be paid for their time. No travel is required. Learn more 
- Ms. Wheelchair Kansas and Little Miss Wheelchair Kansas are still searching for contestants for 2019! The application deadline is approaching on January 7. These programs celebrate women and young girls who are wheelchair mobile. Learn more 
- Kansas Miss Amazing is seeking participants for their 2019 event! Miss Amazing is a nationwide program that provides opportunities for girls and women with disabilities to build self-confidence. Females ages 5 and older who have an IEP, IPP, 504 plan, SSI, or a physician's record proving disability are eligible to participate. The 2019 event will be March 2 at the Emporia Arts Center. The early registration deadline with extra incentives is January 1 and the final deadline is February 1. Learn more 
Opportunities on a National Level
- Want to see examples of successful programs across the nation that are helping youth with disabilities in transition? Check out these cool videos from Transition Films! View the videos

- Being a college student with a disability is not easy. There is a national organization that brings this population together. DREAM (Disability Rights, Education Activism, and Mentoring) is a national organization for and by college students with disabilities and is open to students of all ages with any kind of disability. DREAM advocates for disability culture, community, and pride, and hopes to serve as an online virtual disability cultural center for students who want to connect with other students. Learn more or find your local chapter
Donate to KYEA!
Do you believe in the KYEA mission of empowering and supporting youth with disabilities in our state? Consider making a donation! We appreciate any and all support to help us keep changing lives!
(just click on the DONATE button)
Sharing all things new in our KYEA world...
KS Youth Leadership Forum Deadline Extended for Applicants   
KSYLF dove logoWe continue to search for applicants for our Kansas Youth Leadership Forum, and have extended our deadline! Our new application deadline is February 8, 2019. We are searching for high school juniors and seniors with disabilities who have leadership interest or potential. This is an experience that you don't want to miss! 
Are you not quite sure if you want to apply? Would you like to know more about what you will get from this program? Well, you will gain:
  • New leadership skills to take back to your community
  • Information about resources that will help you reach your goals
  • Experiences that will help you speak out and advocate more
  • Successful adult mentors who will support you
  • A large new set of friends from all over the state
  • Memories gained from our barbecue, talent show, dance, and more
  • Tools, opportunities, and experiences that will change your life forever!
So, why wouldn't you apply? But, don't wait! Again, delegate applications are now due by February 8, 2019.
We are also now accepting applications for volunteers for our 2019 KSYLF! We are searching for committed, enthusiastic people who are willing to devote a week to this great program. Do you have the skills and passion to facilitate groups and motivate youth with disabilities? Then consider serving as a volunteer at this year's KSYLF.

Past volunteers, KSYLF alumni, and new volunteers are encouraged to apply! Volunteer applicants must fill out our application form, as well as two background checks, and send to the KYEA office by February 5, 2019.
Faces of Change Seeking Young Adult Leaders for 2019 Class  
Faces of Change logo with a face that has arrows around it Are you someone with leadership skills who would like to use those skills to change your community? Faces of Change is taking applications for our 2019 class. 
Faces of Change is a leadership program offered by KYEA, designed for young adults from the ages of 17 through 25 years old.  Faces is an advanced leadership training and focuses on civic engagement and commitment to others. 
The goal of Faces is for you to sharpen your existing leadership skills, as well as explore what leadership style works for you. This program is geared to assist you in learning about motivating others, various communication styles, working as a team, using mentors for guidance in leadership, and creating a community change project.  Faces aids you in exploring a change that you wish to make in your community.  You will make new connections with peers and with innovative speakers who are leaders from across Kansas.   
Faces meets one weekend per month for seven months in Topeka.  There are fun and challenging group activities and after hours opportunities to socialize.  Oh yeah, did we mention it is free?!  Have we piqued your interest yet? 
If you are interested in applying, please contact us by email at faces@kyea.org to get your application.  There is a process for applying and being accepted, but don't get nervous about that, just get your application and get started.  Applications are due no later than January 14, 2019.

Blue and black television KYEA was recently featured on the Community Matters portion of the KSNT News in Topeka! Willis Scott, reporter, spent a day with us at our Topeka Empower Me! workshop and put together this awesome story. Check it out!

Mentoring Matters... and KYEA is Doing Something About It! 
New program connects youth with disabilities to mentors   
by Josh Ruoff, Master of Social Work KYEA Intern  

Mentoring Matters logo with star burst Calling all youth ages 14 to 25! We are starting a new program called Mentoring Matters! Mentoring Matters is a work based mentoring program where you will be matched up with a professional working in a career of your interest. You will have the opportunity to meet with them once a week to: ask them questions about the career, set goals together to work towards a career in that field, and, if the job allows, you may be able to job shadow. There is no cost to be a part of this program. Although we will do our best to match you up with someone in your area and in a career of your exact interest, we only have a number of mentors in certain areas and a variety of careers.

If this is an opportunity that interests you, please contact me by calling (785) 215-6655 Ext. 5 or by email at mentoring@kyea.org. I look forward to working with you to provide opportunities to help you have continued success!
Also, to all previous KYEA mentors, if you would be interested in being a mentor for a youth in this program, please contact me.  
I am excited to see where the growth of this program takes us, and I know that, if we work together, then the sky is the limit! I wish all of you and your loved ones a healthy and joyful holiday season!
I Want to Help People...
What Are My Options?  
15 ways to help others during this time of the year 
by Johnna Godinez, Program Assistant 

A bunch of wrapped packages with a note attached that says Just For You. One tradition I hold dear is that of providing some type of service to my community. Most of the time, it involves my finances, but I incorporate the expense into my gift giving budget. Below are some ideas of helping others that only cost you your time, and most idea's are low-cost. I recommend collaborating with others and pooling your money and resources together for maximum impact.

1. Shovel the driveway and/or sidewalk for your elderly or disabled neighbor. 
2. Check regularly on your elderly neighbors and ask if they'd like to share a meal, watch a movie, or play a board game together over the holidays. 
3. Volunteer for the month of December to deliver for Meals on Wheels. 
4. Adopt a needy family or buy gifts for children in foster care by yourself or with some friends. 
5. Donate clean socks and underwear to a local homeless shelter. 
6. At a fast food restaurant, pay for the bill of the person behind you in the drive-through. 
7. Tip 15% extra to your favorite server at a restaurant where you are a regular. 
8. Give a partial sponsorship (i.e. $25) to your local animal shelter for the adoption of one homeless animal. 
9. Donate a toy to Toys for Tots. 
10. Bake some cookies and share them with your neighbors or friends. 
11. Buy a box of Holiday cards, sign them, and mail them to the closest Veterans Administration hospital. 
12. Go Christmas caroling with some friends at a retirement community, hospital, Veterans Association hospital, etc.
13. Serve as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army. 
14. Adopt a neighborhood school and donate new school supplies for the Spring semester, or volunteer to read books aloud to one of the classrooms.  
15. Check with a local church - they often have an "Angel Tree" giving presents to youth whose parents are incarcerated or a "Shoe Box" Ministry drive for international giving to needy children. 
The Importance of Helping
Reasons to take a moment and give back during the year

by Carrie Greenwood, Program Coordinator and Newsletter Editor

Four people in turquise shirts lock arms and walk into the distance. There is so much to do this time of year. Cookies to bake, presents to wrap, music programs to attend, cards to write... the list goes on and on. Have you made time to help someone else in this long TO DO list? If not, then we suggest that you think of at least one thing that you can do to help another person. Why, you ask? Well, there are many important reasons to help. Here are just a couple...

Think of all of the awesome things that you have in your life. Maybe you are not rich; maybe you are even having some struggles in your life right now. You can still take a moment to help another person. It's likely that there are quite a few people in this world who have less than you do. If there is even just one person who has less than you, then you can help them (guess what... you can even help people who have more than you!). Check out Johnna's list of ways to help above, and you will see what I mean! Think of the relief that you might be giving to someone when you assist them with something. Helping another person might even make you feel better. Not only will it put a smile on their face, but it will likely put a smile on your face as well.

Another reason to help out in your community is because it will give you purpose. As people with disabilities, how many times a day do we have to ask for help? If you're like me, then probably about 50 times a day. So, why not take the time to put the focus on someone else? Be the helper instead of the one needing to be helped. Use your gifts and talents to assist someone in need. People with disabilities have so much to contribute. YOU have something to contribute!

Remember that helping comes in a million different forms. You can help in so many ways and it doesn't even have to be anything big. Helping can be simple. It also doesn't have to be in the month of December. There are so many opportunities throughout the year to give back and help out. The world needs your unique blend of skills and talents. Pick one way that you can help and go for it! I have a pretty good feeling that you won't regret it.  
Question of the Month
What are some traditions that you and/or your family have during this holiday season?
quotation markSince me and my sister are older now, we all decided to slim down on gifts. So now, we get one gift from each of these categories: something we want, something we need, something to wear, and something to read. We've done this for a few years now. It's become our family tradition now!
- Chelsea Loper, KSYLF Alumna '09

We all get together on Thanksgiving. We all are responsible for bringing something. It alternates from year to year between my mom and my aunt's house. It always is a wonderful time.
- Taylor Boykin, KSYLF Alumni '08

We open our presents Christmas Eve and have pizza for dinner. And we attend an early church service to save time. And we also have chocolate covered bacon as a treat. Been doing this for as long as I can remember and it's always fun.
- Kyle Christine, KSYLF Alumni '11

In my family, the younger cousins decorate the Christmas tree in the days before Christmas, we exchange gifts on Christmas Eve at my house, and then, on Christmas Day, my brother and I open gifts from our grandparents. Then they go to my grandmas for a few hours and the rest of day is spent being lazy.
- Elizabeth Wright, KSYLF Alumna '18

We all get together and open presents. Over the years, the youngest child would hand out presents. For a lot of my life, I was the quotation mark one that handed out all the presents.
- Allison Wilkes Hopper, ICON Alumna 
Motivation for the New Year
You really can make your life what you want it to be... did you know this? A new year is right around the corner, and we encourage you to create the life you want, dream big, and embrace who you are! Check out these awesome videos and get motivated for a brand new year!  
Community Power!
Circle with different types of disability logos
Highlighting centers for independent living throughout the state
"My dearly departed friend and disability advocate, Roger Frischenmeyer, always said that it is much easier to advocate for others than oneself. I agree. Please read below as Kirstianna Guerrero discusses the core service- advocacy."
     - Johnna Godinez, Program Assistant

by Kirstianna Guerrero, KSYLF Alumna '18    

Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are required by Federal law to provide core services. Kansas has five core services: peer counseling, skills training, deinstitutionalization/transition, information and referral, and advocacy. As individuals identify goals for independent living, CILs can explain options and develop a plan to meet their goals.

I spoke with Ami Hyten, Executive Director of the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center (TILRC), about advocacy. There are two forms of advocacy. Individual advocacy affects one person, while systems advocacy affects many people. CILs carry out advocacy work in many ways. Specifically, TILRC advocates for people with disabilities by providing testimony, helping with individual communication like writing letters for accommodations, formal processes like fair housing complaints, grassroots advocacy, support in protesting, policy work for systems issues, and more! They even have summer internships for youth to learn self-advocacy!

Advocacy is important for youth with disabilities because freedom, independence, and choice should be available to everyone. If you want to learn to advocate, Ami's advice is to educate yourself about the system and be assertive. You shouldn't feel like you have to apologize for asking that your rights are respected.

To learn more about TILRC, visit their website at www.tilrc.org or email Ami Hyten at ahyten@tilrc.org.
Blue calendar
CIL Calendar
Want to get involved with your local CIL? Here are exciting upcoming opportunities:

All CIL updates provided to KYEA occurred before the publishing of this newsletter. BUT, we know that CILs are gearing up for lots of activities in the new year! Check out your local CIL's website to see events in the coming months.  
*ATTENTION CILs: Don't forget to let us know when you have exciting events that you would like listed in our newsletter. To have your CIL's event dates listed in future issues, contact Johnna at johnnag@kyea.org.
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 next issue that will come out in February!
Happy Holidays with blue and red bulbs
Thanks for reading our newsletter this month! Learn more about KYEA by going to our website at www.kyea.org!

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