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

Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy Newsletter
Issue #39
February 2017
in this issue
:: Through Julia's Eyes
:: KYEA Partners with Three Rivers to Host Employment Workshop
:: Next EMS Workshop: Hays
:: What is diversity and why is it important?
:: Spotlight On: Olivia Ramirez
:: The Road of Diversity
:: Diverse People with Disabilities Who Have Made an Impact
:: State and National Opportunities
:: KYEA Updates
:: Support KYEA Through Fundraisers
:: Madonna's Corner
:: Six Tips for Inclusion
:: Important Diversity Dates
:: Opportunity: "Transition to Employment" Town Hall
:: Community Power: SKIL in Southeast Kansas

Four hands with varying skin tones sign the letters of LOVE
Hello friends! We hope that your 2017 has started off great! KYEA's year has started off with a bang as we are in full program mode. We have lots going on in the office, including recruitment for KSYLF, Faces of Change, and our next Empower Me! Series workshop. We are also moving forward with our many Mentoring Services, which is very exciting. Not only that, but we are celebrating the success of our first EMS workshop of 2017 in Wamego! Read all of the latest KYEA news below.

So, what is our newsletter topic for the month? You were probably expecting pink and red splattered all over the newsletter and lots of stories about love, right? This February, we decided to go a different direction with our topic and talk about a different kind of love... love of diversity! It's Black History Month, which got us thinking... why focus on just one diverse population when we can talk about all of them?! This newsletter is chalk full of diverse people and the awesome things that they bring to our world. Diversity means so many different things, and it truly makes our world interesting.

So, read on and learn all about the unique people in our world. While you're at it, take some time to celebrate your differences and uniqueness as well!

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

When I was 11 years old, I moved from New York City to a small town in Kansas.  I had olive skin tone with kinky curly hair (Puerto Rican girl here), talked with an east coast accent, and had disabilities.  At that time, this small town consisted of mostly caucasion individuals.  Needless to say, I stood out from the crowd a bit.  At that age, the last thing I wanted was to stand out.  I never stood out in NYC because everywhere you looked there were people of all different colors, cultures, and orientations.  It was tough being different in a small town.  I could not understand why the "white people" hated me so much.  Growing up, I began to have hard feelings towards people who are white.  It was kind of strange because, while my peers feared and did not like me because of my differences, I did not like them because of their similarities.  

Now that I am an adult, my skin has become somewhat pale, my hair is not as kinky, and my east coast accent is pretty much gone.  When I share with others that I am a Puerto Rican from NYC, I get mostly shocked reactions.  While there is no question that my disabilities are still evident, I miss my more olive skin and east coast accent!  While my outside may not seem as diverse, my inside is so very colorful and I love it!  I have learned to value my diversity and strive to show it on a daily basis.  I have not only learned to embrace people who are white and different in many ways, I have learned to embrace my diversity.  

Diversity is so much more than just color and ethnicity. Diversity is culture and community.  I have said several times that "our differences make us similar."  Own it, flaunt it, rock it!

KYEA Partners with Three Rivers to Host Employment Workshop

Participants and volunteers at the Wamego EMS take a silly group photo
Participants and volunteers of the Empower Me! Series "Now Hiring" workshop in Wamego join together for a silly photo at the end of the day.

KYEA recently was on the road for our first Empower Me! Series (EMS) workshop of 2017. Our first stop... Wamego! Seventeen youth from Wamego and surrounding areas came together to learn all about how to be successful in employment. This was the 7th EMS workshop that KYEA has conducted in the last few years, and it did not disappoint! This workshop was a day full of laughter and learning!

KYEA partnered with Three Rivers, Inc. for this one day workshop, held February 4, for youth with disabilities entitled "Now Hiring." Attendees learned all about how to be successful in employment. They heard from a panel of people with disabilities who are working, explored their own talents and job interests, wrote their own resume, experienced a mock job interview, heard from Vocational Rehabilitation and the Pottawatomie Economic Development office, and enjoyed a role playing segment that demonstrated soft skills in the workplace. The attendees also filled out their very own Individual Empowerment Plan focused on long and short term job goals. The day was full of information sharing, non-stop learning, open discussion about disability, fun moments of meeting new people, and lots of laughter!

To all 17 youth who attended the workshop- you guys kept us on our toes and smiling all day long! We look forward to talking with you soon! Thank you to all of our awesome volunteers and speakers who made the day great. Also, of course, a huge thanks to Three Rivers for welcoming us to Wamego, being wonderful partners, and for the staff that helped out at the workshop... you are awesome!

Next up for our EMS workshops... Hays! Check out our next workshop below!
Next up for EMS... Hays!

How can I be successful in a job? 
Can I work as a youth with a disability?

Join us for a day full of learning and fun as we answer these questions and give you the tools to be successful in employment! 
Now Hiring workshop logo

"Now Hiring"
Saturday, April 1 
10:00 am - 4:30 pm
LINK, Inc. in Hays 
We are joining forces with LINK, Inc. to bring you this fun, informative workshop!

Do you need to know how to find and keep a job? Spend a day with us learning all about employment in an interactive group setting. Hear from speakers, participate in group discussions, meet other youth with disabilities, enjoy hands on activities, food, prizes, and more! This workshop is open to youth with disabilities, ages 15-25, who live in Hays or surrounding areas.
Register by MARCH 17!

What is DIVERSITY and why is it important?

The word diversity made out of different colors of paper and pinned on a cork board  
  1. The state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness; variety 
  2. The inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.
Notice the words variety and inclusion in the definitions above. Those are positive words, right? So, why is it often so hard for our world to embrace diversity? At KYEA, we celebrate diversity, and this month, have decided to dedicate a whole newsletter issue to this topic.

So, what is diversity really? Diversity means that we have variety in our world and nation. We are all different. We come from different cultures, have different skin colors, different sexual orientations and gender identities, a variety of disabilities, etc. We all have a different story to tell and have had different experiences. Some people grew up with lots of money; others with very little money. Some people grew up with a mom and a dad in one house; others were raised in single parent families or adopted. Some of us are female; others are male. The variety of people that we have in this world is amazing!

So, why should we embrace diversity? Because we want people to embrace us! If you are a person with a disability, you know what it's like to be different. You most likely want to be accepted. That is what others are feeling too. We can't talk about accepting and understanding people with a variety of disabilities and then turn around and discriminate or judge someone else because of their skin color or economic status or sexual orientation. That's just not fair.

You don't have to claim to understand everyone who is different from you, but you should want to learn about them and get to know them. That's what this newsletter is about... celebrating diversity in all of its forms, especially within our disability community. Read on to begin celebrating...

Since this is our diversity issue, we couldn't resist including food! Food from different cultures is one of the best things about diversity! So, enjoy the recipes scattered throughout this issue...
General Tso's Chicken

General Tso's Chicken over rice  
Serves: 4 servings 
Prep time: 15 mins 
Cook time: 15 mins 
Total time: 30 mins


1 pound chicken thighs cut into 1 inch chunks 
1/4 cup cornstarch oil for frying  
1 tablespoon minced ginger 
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes  
2 cloves garlic, minced

For the Sauce:  
3 tablespoons rice vinegar  
3 tablespoons soy sauce  
2 teaspoons hoisin sauce 
1/4 cup water  
3 tablespoons sugar  
1 tablespoon cornstarch

1. Toss the chicken thighs with the quarter cup of cornstarch and let sit while you mix the sauce ingredients.  
2. Add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, water, sugar and tablespoon of cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk together.  
3. Add the chicken to a pan with the oil and fry until crispy.  
4. Drain all but a tablespoon of the oil and add the chili flakes, ginger and garlic.  
5. Cook until you smell the garlic (about 30 seconds). 
6. Add in the chicken and toss, then add in the sauce. 
7. Stir for about 30 seconds until thickened.  
8. Serve immediately.

Spotlight On! 
Sharing a Passion for Music & Culture  
Olivia Ramirez, Lawrence

by Dallas Hathaway, Faces of Change Alumni

Olivia Ramirez

As we celebrate diversity this month, we decided to interview a 2015 Kansas Youth Leadership Forum alumni to learn more about her background and experiences. Olivia Ramirez is a Hispanic resident of Lawrence, Kansas. Olivia also has epilepsy, a neurological condition that causes seizures.

One of Olivia's biggest passions is her love for music.

"I am involved with Mexican music," Ramirez said. "I also enjoy country music and many other genres."

Olivia told me a story about a time when she was a freshman in high school. Olivia was listening to a CD and discovered she wanted to know the individual components that go into making music. In fact, Olivia hopes to work with local bands in the future. Specifically, she would enjoy working with sound and being inside the recording studio.

Olivia also celebrates her culture by attending mass at St. John Church in Lawrence.

"Growing up, my family liked to take me to Spanish masses," Olivia said. "This gave me the opportunity to learn more about my culture."

Every year, during the summer, Olivia and her family go to the fiestas in Lawrence and Topeka.

"When we go to Topeka, I like to help out the DJ and help set up the band," Olivia said. "I also help out with the sound checks."

Olivia is currently a student at Kansas City Kansas Community College. She is studying to become a certified audio engineer. Olivia attended an audio engineering conference in 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. She will complete her certificate this coming May.

In her spare time, Olivia also enjoys singing. Check out a couple of her awesome performances at the links below.

I enjoyed learning more about Olivia's cultural background and interests. I will certainly be excited to see where her journey takes her in the future. It's always nice having a chance to catch u p with a former KSYLF alumni. Thank you, Olivia, for taking the time to share your story!

The Road of Diversity  
How Other Social Movements Paved the Way for Disability Rights

Did you know that the Disability Rights Movement would not have been as successful if it were not for the Civil Rights Movement and Women's Rights Movement? Read on to learn why...

by Taylor Boykin, KSYLF 2008 Alumni

A group of people who are wheelchair users hold protest signs and sit in front of a Greyhound bus One of the best showings of diversity is through social movements. Did you know that the Civil Rights Movement and Women's Rights Movement helped pave the way for The Disability Rights Movement? The Women's Rights Movement took place from 1848-1920 and the Civil Rights Movement was from 1954-1968. What is unique about these movements is that they are still active today. These movements were influential because it provided the Disability Rights Movement a template of how to organize themselves and invoke change in society. Some dynamic leaders emerged such as: Rosa Parks, Lucy Stone and Susan B. Anthony. These are all individuals who fought for what they believed in. Two inspiring events from those movements were when women received the right to vote on August 18, 1920 and the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955.

The Disability Rights Movement of the 1960s came along at exactly the right time because they could work side-by-side with the Civil Rights Movement in their fight for equality. This movement has become global because it is fighting for disabled people all over the world. It is fighting for equal opportunity employment and equal rights. This movement is about inclusion, not exclusion, and getting their voices heard everywhere, from universities to the nation's Capital.
Portraits of Leadership: Diverse People with Disabilities Who Have Made an Impact

Yes, we have a ton of disability leaders in our world. There are so many people who are out there creating change for our disability community, but did you know that many of them are diverse in other ways? Here are just a few examples of diverse people with disabilities who are awesome examples of leadership... 
by Johnna Godinez, Program Assistant
Lizzie Velazquez
Lizzie Velazquez - Talk about taking lemons and making lemonade... this young woman, who was once labeled as the "ugliest woman in the world" on the Internet, became a Ted Talk star whose platform is bully less and accept people for who they are. Due to her body's inability to maintain any fat, Miss. Velazquez was bullied in and out of school. Now she's a noteworthy national anti-bullying advocate.

Lenin Moreno
Lenin Moreno - Current Vice President of Ecuador who is the first wheelchair mobile elected official for this small progressive South American country. To help people with disabilities become more included in society, he required all companies to save 4% of their job openings for people with disabilities and started other programs for people with disabilities to receive services necessary prior to gaining employment. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. He may run for president in 2017.

Claudia Gordon
Claudia Gordon - Currently serves as the special assistant to the Director of the Office Federal Contract in Compliance in the U.S. Department of Labor. After losing her hearing at eight years old, and immigrating to the United States at age eleven from Jamaica, she told her teachers that she was going to be an attorney someday. With faith and perseverance that was modeled by her Mother, she did, in fact, become an attorney.

Katherine Perez
Katherine Perez - Katherine is one of the 2017 AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award winners. She is a proud Latino woman of Mexican descent with a mental health disability. Currently, she is a doctoral student at Illinois University in Chicago. She founded The National Coalition of Latinx with Disabilities. The larger goal of the coalition is to unite and celebrate Latinx with disabilities and to educate, advocate, and mobilize the coalition to advance the relationship between Latinx and the greater American disability community.

Ollie Cantos
Ollie Cantos - Ollie is the current Special Assistant in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at U.S. Department of Education. He is a Filipino-American who is blind. Ollie started his leadership journey in the disability field at the early age of 20. He said no to mediocrity and has become a notable disability rights leader. Ollie has served in multiple positions within the U.S. government. He is also a public speaker and has spoken in 42 different states.

Ola Ojewumi
Ola Ojewumi - Ola is also one of the 2017 AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award winners. After receiving a heart and kidney transplant, she started two non-profits that benefit those in need of organ transplants and an initiative to provide college scholarships to youth in poverty. She was an advisor to former President Obama on the needs of people with disabilities in this country. Currently she is an independent journalist.
News and Events
Opportunities in Kansas
- JOB OPENING! Advocate at Disability Rights Center of Kansas
DRC is currently searching for a Disability Rights Advocate that is interested in working for their public interest legal advocacy agency. The salary is approximately $32,000 and many job benefits would be provided. View the job description

- Come on out to the 2017 Ms. Wheelchair Kansas Crowning Ceremony where the new adult titleholder and Little Miss Wheelchair Kansas will be crowned! This year's ceremony will be on Sunday, March 19 at 2:00 pm. The ceremony will be at the DoubleTree Hotel (200 McDonald Drive) in Lawrence. It is free and open to the public! Come to meet this year's contestants, be empowered by their stories, interact with past titleholders, and learn all about this important program in our state! Visit the MWKS website    
Opportunities on a National Level
- The APRIL (Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living) Youth Advocacy Committee is looking for your feedback on the issues affecting youth with disabilities. They are conducting a survey to collect information about the skills that young people are looking for and what issues are effecting young people. This survey is geared toward youth with disabilities across the U.S. who are 30 years old or younger. For more information, contact Sierra Royster at 919-567-3602 or Complete the survey

The Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship is looking for applicants! If you have an interest in digital media storytelling, then this is the opportunity for you! This fellowship provides the opportunity for an individual with a disability to learn and apply skills in digital media storytelling, and to connect with media professionals to prepare for advanced careers in media production, journalism, online advocacy, or digital design. Sound cool? The deadline to apply is March 15, 2017. Learn more

Have you ever had an interest in being an exchange student, but weren't sure if you could travel to another country? Well, the Digital Young Leaders Exchange Program allows you to have this experience online! DYLEP is an online exchange program for high school students in Iraq and the United States. Through DYLEP, students work together to develop their leadership skills and design concrete projects to address social justice issues in their communities. Selected students learn using videos, discussion forums, online chats, webinars, and games. Applications for this summer's program are now being accepted and are due by March 15, 2017. Learn more

The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has launched a new website for young adults with neuromuscular disabilities. The site allows youth to sign up for updates, receive a 30-minute virtual coaching session, and learn about advocacy and resources focused on education, employment, and independent living. Visit the website
KYEA Updates
Sharing all things new in our KYEA world...
Faces of Change Still Seeking Participants for 2017 Class!    

Faces of Change logo with a face that has arrows around it Are you a leader in your community? Do you have a passion for making change? Then you need to apply for Faces of Change! We have extended our application deadline and are still looking for applicants for our 2017 class. Our new deadline is February 28, 2017.

Faces of Change is a leadership program offered by KYEA, designed for young adults between the ages of 17 and 25 years old.  Faces is an advanced leadership training and focuses on community change and commitment to others. The goal of Faces is to prepare you to make a difference in your community by using your leadership skills to make it better!  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 meets one weekend per month for seven months in Topeka.  There are fun and challenging group activities, community speakers, and after hours opportunities to socialize. The program is completely free and KYEA can assist with accommodations and transportation as needed.

Remember, applications are now due by February 28, 2017. Apply today!

Print a Faces application

KS Youth Leadership Forum in Need of Committed, Enthusiastic Volunteers!

Past KSYLF volunteers take a photo with delegates The 2017 Kansas Youth Leadership Forum is going to be here before we know it, and we need more volunteers! Do you like working with high school students with disabilities? Do you have the skills and passion to facilitate groups and motivate young adults with disabilities? Then we need you!

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

The 2017 KSYLF will be held on July 10-15, 2017 at Washburn University in Topeka. Volunteers can be KSYLF alumni, past volunteers, or anyone in our state who is over age 18. We are extending our volunteer application deadline to MARCH 3, 2017. Apply to serve as a volunteer today!

Print a volunteer application  
Support KYEA Through Fundraisers...
There is something for everyone!   
Chocolate candy bars of different flavors BUY CHOCOLATE
If you are a chocolate lover, then you will LOVE World's Finest Chocolate candy bars! KYEA is currently selling World's Finest Chocolate candy bars for only $1.00 each as a fundraiser for our organization. You can buy as many bars as you like, and there are lots of flavor options, including: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, almond, caramel, and crisp. Call us at 785-215-6655 or stop by our office to purchase yours!

Amazon logo AMAZON SMILE
Donate a portion of your Amazon purchase totals to KYEA! In order to add KYEA to your Amazon shopping experience, please go to: . This will take you directly to the KYEA page where you can follow the prompts. 
KYEA is enrolled in the Dillon's Plus Card Community Rewards program. In order to add KYEA to your Dillon's Plus Card, all you have to do is visit , create an account, and then enter our NPO number, which is 88911.


If you are unable to do any of the above, but still want to support KYEA, you can always donate money or supplies for programs. To donate, visit our website at and click on the donate button. If you would like to donate program supplies, give us a call at 785-215-6655.
Madonna- a small, furry, white dog Madonna's Corner!
Our therapeutic manager shares the importance of accepting everyone...   

Madonna may not understand why dogs and humans are different, but she still loves her puppy friends and people friends. Madonna gets it! Do you?

Every day, when I go out to the backyard, I see my friends and we bark (talk) and play on four legs.  We go to the bathroom outside, lick ourselves clean, and we greet each other by sniffing each other's rear end.

When I go to work with mommy, though, everyone there walks on 2 legs, talks in a language I cannot understand, goes behind a door to use the bathroom and clean themselves, and they greet each other by shaking each other's paws (hands) instead of a good sniff.  I don't understand this behavior.  I have tried teaching my people the ways of my friends, but they still want to walk on 2 legs instead of 4!

What I have decided during my many dog naps, and while I am taking care of my hygiene, is that it is ok for my people to be different.  Because, at the end of the day, we all know how to cuddle and wuf (love) each other and that is all that matters!

Go cuddle and have a Wagulous day!
Six Tips for Inclusion  
Suggestions for how to be inclusive of ALL people  

by Julia Connellis, Executive Director

Hands that are different colors form a circle as if embracing the world
One desire of people with disabilities is the need to be included.  While we are so passionate about this, we can forget that the world is bigger and more diverse than just us.  Inclusion is being a part of something, while exclusion means being ignored or forgotten.  If you think about various diverse groups, inclusion can be pretty overwhelming.  No fear!  Here are some basic tips to make sure that ALL people feel included:

1. Smile - Have you ever heard anyone say that, when someone smiled at them, they felt ignored??  I sure haven't!  A smile never hurt anyone and it says "I see you "without even saying the words.

2. Listen - No matter what diversity group someone identifies with, everyone has a story.  The best way to learn about someone who is different from you is to listen to, and value, their story and experiences in life.

3. Ask questions - Some may say that asking questions is rude.  I firmly believe asking questions is a great way to find out answers.  The key is to be polite and genuine when you ask.  You cannot control how the other person will react, but you can control how sensitive you are when you ask.  

4. Words - Using the correct terminology is so very important.  How do you know what terminology to use?  Go online and do some research or, better yet, JUST ASK them.  No doubt they will be glad that you are making the attempt to be respectful.  

5. Judge from the inside - Let's be honest, we ALL judge.  The thing about judgement is that we tend to do it from the outside instead of the inside.  What you see is not always what you get.  So, before you judge someone on what they look like or what they are wearing, think twice.  When judging, judge their heart.  Spend time with them and get to know them on a deeper level.  Snap judgements usually make you look like a fool in the end.

6. One experience - You may have had, or will have, a negative experience with someone different from you.  Remember, this is one experience and does not mean that you will have a negative experience with the next person.  Also remember that your parent's experiences are not yours.  While your parents or anyone you look up to may not like, or agree with, a certain diversity group, that does not mean you have to feel the same.  Have your own experiences... have lots of them!

Go and spread the love of inclusion!
Diversity Celebrated All Year Long! Check it out... 

Calendar There is a day for everything! Most of us know about Black History Month and maybe even Pride Month, but did you know that there are so many days throughout the year to celebrate our diverse population? We have only listed a few here. Do some research; see what other days that you can find!

January 15: World Religion Day
January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
FEBRUARY: Black History Month
MARCH: Women's History Month
March 1: Zero Discrimination Day
March 8: International Women's Day
April 2: World Autism Awareness Day
May 17: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
JUNE: LGBTQ Pride Month
June 20: World Refugee Day
August 9: International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples
August 12: International Youth Day
September 21: International Day of Peace
OCTOBER: National Disability Employment Awareness Month
November 19: International Men's Day
DECEMBER: Universal Human Rights Month
5-Ingredient White Queso

5-Ingredient White Queso
Serves: 3 cups
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 25 mins


1 lb pepperjack cheese
8 oz full-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1 10oz can original Rotel tomatoes & green chilies, drained
3/4 cup whole milk (if needed)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chili powder
*NOTE: I have gotten mixed feedback about using low-fat substitutions so use full-fat dairy for best results!*
*NOTE 2: For a smoother queso, try using half white American cheese and half pepperjack!*

1. In a medium pot over LOW heat, combine the cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, and Rotel.
2. Let the mixture heat until the cheeses melt and a smooth cream forms, stirring often. This should take 15-20 minutes. Add the spices if desired. Add milk if needed.
3. Once melted, serve immediately, or transfer to a slow cooker with a "warm" setting to keep dip warm and melted.
4. Enjoy!

Calling all youth and young adults with disabilities... 
We need to hear your ideas
and experiences!

Transition to Employment- various pictures of school, college, and work

Do you have successes or challenges that you would like to share?
Then join us! Coming to a city near you...

This is your chance to share your experiences or fears on your journey to employment! A group of people interested in your future wants to hear what you have to say. Come and meet with other young adults in your area, enjoy refreshments, and tell us what YOU need to find the job that you want!

Youth, parents, community members, educators, and providers are all welcome! When giving feedback, though, these groups will be split up to create a safe sharing atmosphere.

Town hall meetings will be held across the state from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in seven locations:

February 28: Shawnee Mission-- Indian Creek Technology Center, 4401 West 103rd Street 
March 7: Salina-- OCCK Transportation Center, 340 N. Santa Fe 
March 8: Wichita-- Independent Living Resource Center, 3033 West Second Street North 
March 9: Girard-- Greenbush South East Kansas Education Service Center, 947 W. 47 Highway 
March 14: Topeka-- Washburn Technical Conference Center, 5724 S.W. Huntoon Street 
March 15: Garden City-- Southwest Developmental Services, 1808 Palace Drive Suite C 
March 16: Hays-- Roosevelt Elementary School, 2000 MacArthur Road

Register online at Search for "Transition to Employment."

Community Power! 
Circle with different types of disability logos Highlighting centers for independent living throughout the state 
SKIL Resource Center, Southeast Kansas

Johnna Godinez shares everything you need to know about SKIL Resource Center, a CIL that serves a large portion of Southeast Kansas!

SKIL Resource Center logo

When I asked Shari Coatney, the Executive Director of SKIL Resource Center, to describe their center for independent living in one word, "empowerment" was the word that she gave. SKIL's main office is in Parsons, with seven other offices located across South Eastern Kansas. Crawford, Cherokee, Labette, Neosho, Montgomery, Wilson, Chautauqua, and Woodson are the counties where they provide core services.

SKIL employs a total of 50 staff members.  Fifteen staffers are focused on providing core services (trainings, advocacy, information, and peer support). Spoiler alert! You've got to check out SKIL's website. It has everything you need to know about independent living!  Be sure to listen to their Resource Central podcasts, including one with our very own Carrie Greenwood too! Check out the links below to view their website.

And we can't forget about their youth services! SKIL serves youth during the following events: Fishing Has No Boundaries, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Block Party, and Home for the Holidays party. SKIL is also currently developing a youth empowerment program for after school and for summer breaks. One of our Empower Me! Series alumni, James D., said that SKIL has taught him to get out and be active.

"You don't want to be limited or pushed into a corner.  You don't want to be alone. You just literally need to give SKIL and other [CILs] a try. And it's better than sitting alone and your family taking care of you. That's great, but you need more, you need a social life," James said.

Sounds like empowerment to me!

If you'd like more information about SKIL, contact Heather (at the main office) at (620) 421-5502 or (800) 688-5616.

Visit the SKIL website

Listen to Carrie on Resource Central

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 coming in April!
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 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