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

Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy Newsletter
Issue #24
January 2014
in this issue
:: Behind Julia's Glasses
:: Meet our new ICON
:: Spotlight On: Youth Goal Setters
:: Black History Month in February
:: State and National Opportunities
:: Look Around: Kansas Resources
:: KYEA Updates
:: KYEA Staff Have Goals Too!
:: Got GOALS? A few helpful tips...
:: There's An App For That!

Happy 2014! Welcome to a new year! When we think of the new year, we often think of new beginnings... a chance to start over or finally follow through on certain dreams or goals. There is never a wrong time to follow through on your goals! That is why we have dedicated this whole issue to goal setting.

At KYEA, we are constantly talking about setting and achieving goals. We make goal setting a part of every single program that we have. We even keep ourselves accountable by frequently setting professional and personal goals. In this issue, we feature various youth who have achieved their goals. We also give lots of tips and resources that can help you reach your goals. And, of course, there is lots going on in our office, so check out our KYEA updates, learn about our new intern, and be sure to look through the opportunities to get involved locally and nationally.

Every person should have goals! Accomplishment is what builds our confidence, and it helps us to create our own lives. What are your goals? We challenge you, at the beginning of this new year, to figure out your goals and dive into accomplishing them! But first, dive into this newsletter...

- Carrie Greenwood, Program Coordinator 
Behind Julia's Glasses
by Julia Thomas, Executive Director
"I Can. I Will."Julia Thomas with cartoon sunglasses over her face. She is smiling and has her hand under her chin.


Just as a car needs gas or electricity to run, this girl needs to set goals to be fueled each day.  Goals not only motivate me to get myself in gear, but they are also my road map that guides the direction I will be taking to reach my ultimate destination... completing my goals!!!

I have had many goals in life that I have successfully achieved:
* Make enough money to stop receiving social security disability checks
* Get a college degree
* Own my own house
* Lose 20 pounds (reoccurring goal) 


I have also had goals that I either have not achieved or have changed over time:
* Lose 20 pounds
* Stay married for a long time
* Have a 4.0 grade point average
* Give up drinking Coca Cola 


I have even had goals in my life that weren't really my own, but because someone said I could not achieve something, my goal was to achieve whatever they said I could not whether I wanted to or not.  Hence where my motto comes from "I can and I will."  When people say that they do not have any goals in life, I ask them if there are things they want or need in life.  If there are things that you want and need in life... then you have a goal!  Do you have dreams or fantasize about your future?  Then you have goals!  The best way to reach your goals is to share them with others.  By sharing your goals, you are now having others hold you accountable for your progress, but you also develop a cheering section.  What are some of my goals now, you ask?
* Lose 20 pounds :)
* Raise $200,000 for KYEA
* Attain a master's degree
* Have more fun in life


There are three things in my life that taste amazing.  Two of those things are Coca Cola and chocolate.  The third thing that tastes amazing is the taste of reaching my goals!  It is a taste of sweet satisfaction.  It may take a long time to experience this taste, but it is so worth the time and energy.  Share your goals and progress with us on our KYEA Facebook page and let us know how we can be your cheering section! 

Harry Ummel
Meet our new ICON!
We have a new youth intern in the KYEA office! Learn all about him below...


Harry Ummel 

Age: 18
Education: Senior at Washburn Rural High School

Disability: Potocki- lupsi syndrome, Autism
Favorite thing about being an ICON:  

I like it!
Favorite hobbies: Bow and arrow

goal : something that you are trying to do or achieve
Spotlight On! 
Youth With Disabilities in Kansas Who Are Achieving Their Goals


by Amber Meaux and Carrie Greenwood  

Youth with disabilities in Kansas are out there, living full lives and accomplishing their goals each day! These youth are living examples that hard work pays off. Read on to hear their stories...
Trey Morgan Trey Morgan, KSYLF Alumni 2011

"The more experiences that you have in life, the fuller it is." Trey Morgan stated this motto recently when talking about his accomplishments. And Trey is living a full life right now! Trey is currently attending Washburn Tech in Topeka where he is pursuing a technical drafting career. He cites that a resource that has helped him is Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). A goal that Trey has recently reached is to live on his own in his own apartment. He accomplished this goal by saving his money. Trey's future goal is to be even more independent. He believes that VR can assist him with that as well. We know that Trey will continue to live out his motto each day!

Emily House Emily House, KSYLF Alumna 2011

What resources are needed to reach goals? One way to use your resources is through accommodations such as note takers, extended time for tests, and taking tests in a quiet setting. Emily House used these resources to reach her goal of graduating high school with a GPA of 3.79. She is currently working towards her goal of graduating college using these same resources. Emily will graduate from Hutchinson Community College this year. Her most recent goal was to get into Washburn University in Topeka. Not too long ago, she found out that she has been accepted! She plans to major in Human Services and Social Work and obtain a successful job where she can make an impact on others. Emily goes by the quote, "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game!"

Cole Brown Cole Brown, 2001 KSYLF Attendee
Cole Brown has always had a positive attitude, but he has recently been using that positive attitude to accomplish his goals. Cole had a goal to work and now he has two jobs: one at the Hampton Inn and one at Cottonwood, both in Lawrence. He also currently has his own house, his grandmother's old house, where he lives independently with his dog. Cole is a great example of what it means to be self-determined. Cole was recently featured in a video for the Natl. Gateway to Self-Determination. Watch the video
Josh Edwards Josh Edwards, KSYLF Alumni 2010
Josh Edwards has always had a lot of goals set for himself. We are so proud of Josh for accomplishing one of his big goals- to go to college! Josh is currently attending Johnson County Community College and is majoring in Elementary Education. He already has 43 credits towards his degree. Josh also had a goal to get a job. For a year, in 2013, he worked for the Aspergers Autism Publishing Company. He is currently hoping to work at Price Chopper.
Black History Month Coming Up in February!
What was one of the greatest goals achieved in our history? Equal rights for all people! While many strides have been made in this area, people today still fight for equal rights. Did you know that the disability rights movement stemmed from the civil rights movement?
Let's celebrate diversity! February is Black History Month. Take some time next month to recognize the amazing leaders and african american advocates who fought for equal rights. They paved the way for people with disabilities to fight for their own freedom in society.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Here's just one example... Martin Luther King, Jr. He had a dream to change the world! Actually, Dr. King had a lot of goals that he achieved. Watch and listen to his speech to hear all of them.  
resolution : a course of action that you have determined or decided on
News and Events


Opportunities in Kansas


- Part-time Job Opening: The Big Tent Coalition is looking to hire someone to perform various administrative / clerical-type tasks. Preference is given to a qualified individual with a disability. Read more...


- Could you use an iPad to further your employment or help you in your job? ATK will be giving away 15 iPads to individuals with disabilities willing to participate in sessions that will help you use the iPad. Read more... 


- Are you a parent of a youth with a disability? Then attend the upcoming Families Together "Together We Can Learn" Conference! Read more... 


- Want more local support as a parent helping your youth become employed? Attend local Family Employment Awareness Trainings, hosted by Families Together, in Emporia, Garden City, and Derby. Read more...  


- Kansas Dental Project Advocacy Day is on February 12 in Topeka. Do you believe that ALL people should have access to quality dental care? Then let your voice be heard! Register to attend 


- Parents of youth with disabilities... could you benefit from some support from other Christian families in the Kansas City area? Then attend events and sessions through Listen and Learn hosted by the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. Read more...    



Opportunities on a National Level


- The American Association of People with Disabilities recently released a new PSA that challenges stereotypes about people with disabilities. Four young adults are featured in it! Read more...   View the video 


- Speaking of AAPD... how would you like to intern in Washington, DC this summer? AAPD is searching for applicants for their internship program specifically for college students, graduate students, recent graduates (within one year), or veterans who have a disability. Gain hands on professional experience and opportunities to advance your career goals! Read more... 


- A virtual career fair is being held to advance the employment of people with disabilities on March 20, 2014. This is an opportunity to interact with participating companies and get interviews just by logging on to your computer. Read more... 

Look Around!

Resources in Kansas That Can Help You Reach Your Goals


There are so many organizations and agencies that can assist you with reaching your goals. All of the resources below are in Kansas and are available to you. These are just a few...


Click on each name to view their website. 


VR is a state agency that helps people with disabilities to become employed. VR may be able to help you pay for college, research training programs, purchase clothing or technology for your job, explore transportation options, and more.


Centers for Independent Living (CIL)

A CIL helps people with disabilities to live as independently as possible in their own homes. They also help you achieve your goals. CILs can assist with learning independent living skills, exploring transportation options, advocating for yourself, finding other community resources, and helping you meet other people with disabilities.  


Kansas Assistive Technology Cooperative (KATCO)

Offers alternative financial support for people with disabilities. What this means is that KATCO can help you get a loan for something that you purchase (adapted vehicles, sensory aids, communication devices, home modifications, etc).


Assistive Technology for Kansans (ATK)

Provides assessments, loans, and funding assistance for assistive technology. Need a type of assistive technology at school, work, or home? Go see your local ATK rep! Assistive technology includes wheelchairs, shower chairs, communication devices, screen readers, computer programs that help with learning, large print watches, vibrating alarm clocks, and so much more!


Workforce Centers

Provide all types of assistance to help people become employed. This includes helping with resumes, mock job interviews, researching job openings, soft skills training, career assessments, and more.  


KYEA... of course we are here to support you! We can assist you with writing steps to your goals, brainstorming what you want for your future, passing along resources, or just provide encouragement and support to you.

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...


KSYLF Delegate Application Deadline Approaching! 

KSYLF logo with dove Our Kansas Youth Leadership Forum application deadline is quickly approaching! Don't let this life changing experience pass you by! Delegate applications are due on Friday, January 31. You still have time to apply. Remember, the KSYLF is a week-long leadership training for high school juniors and seniors with all types of disabilities. This is a state-wide program, so we are looking for youth throughout the whole state.


We are also searching for volunteers to be a part of this amazing week! We seek 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 the 2014 KSYLF.


Print delegate or volunteer applications



Calling All Topeka High School Students with Disabilities: Attend the 2014 Empower Me! Challenge!

Are you ready to be empowered?Do you need some support with your journey through high school and beyond? Could you use some resources to assist you in reaching your goals? Then you should attend our Empower Me! Challenge! The EMC is for high school sophomores-seniors who attend school in Shawnee County. Participants must have a disability and an interest in learning about themselves and their future. This year, EMC will be held Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from April 7-25. Students will come to the KYEA office from 9:00-11:30 am each of those days.
EMC assists students with disabilities in exploring themselves, their abilities, and their future! A variety of topics related to transition are covered including disability awareness, goal setting, assistive technology, education, employment, and independent living. EMC is about learning outside of the classroom. Participants are immersed in an encouraging environment and learn in a variety of interactive ways, including trips out into the community, activities, speakers, group discussion, and more!
Shawnee County Disability Mentoring Day: We have a final date!
Disability Mentoring Day logoThe Shawnee County Disability Mentoring Day WILL be happening in 2014! While we have had some scheduling changes, we have a finalized date for this year. It will be held on Tuesday, April 15 at the Topeka Public Library. DMD is the perfect opportunity to job shadow in a career field of interest. The event is open to high school students and adult job seekers with disabilities.
Mark Your Calendars: Topeka Gives Fundraising Event in June
Topeka Gives: a fun day of giving Calling all family, friends, and partners of KYEA. Please put the Topeka Gives event on your calendars for Tuesday, June 3 at Fairlawn Plaza in Topeka! This is a one day giving event where a match is given for every dollar that is donated. Hope to see you there! Questions, contact Johnna at
dream : something that you have wanted very much to do, be, or have for a long time
KYEA Staff Have Goals Too!  
Throughout all of our programs, KYEA staff are constantly working with youth to achieve their goals. Do we practice what we preach? Of course we do! Our staff write goals too and have had many proud moments throughout our lives. Here is a look at each of our proudest moments... our greatest goals achieved thus far...
Julia Thomas, Executive Director
Mission Accomplished: Graduating from Washburn University. 
Julia poses with a friend in her graduation outfit
Carrie Greenwood, Program Coordinator
Mission Accomplished: Learning to drive, getting my license, and obtaining my own beautiful red van!
Carrie sits in front of her red van
Johnna Godinez, VISTA Program Support
Mission Accomplished: Obtaining my Master's Degree in Special Education.
  Johnna accepts her diploma at graduation
Rachel Klaus, Washburn Intern 
Mission Accomplished: Running my first 5K! 
Rachel stands, covered in multiple colors, with her parents at a 5K race
Tips for Successfully Achieving Your Goals


by Carrie Greenwood  

G-- Get Others Involved
Tell people about your goals! As Julia shared in her article, this really is the best way to build your support system. When you tell other people about the things that you want to accomplish, they can encourage you, give you resources, and remind you of your goal even when you want to give up.
O-- Overcome Barriers
The road to reaching our goals is not always a straight, smooth road... it can oftentimes be very bumpy with lots of roadblocks. You will have some barriers to get through in order to achieve your goals. BUT, remember that with patience and determination, you can overcome and get past these barriers. Get a positive attitude and push forward, knocking down any of those roadblocks!
A-- Attitude
Speaking of a positive attitude... this is a MUST for accomplishing your goals! Believing in yourself and having a good attitude about things will get you far in life, especially when working towards a goal. A positive, determined attitude will give you the energy that you need to take the steps related to your goal. Will every step of your goal setting journey be positive? Probably not, but the right attitude will definitely help you along the way.
L-- Look Around
Resources, resources, resources... we cannot emphasize them enough! Resources will definitely help you accomplish those things that maybe you thought were impossible. Resources can be assistive technology, organizations and agencies, people, and more. Do your research and look around. There are so many things and people that can help you... find them! (see related article to the right)

S- Seek the Present AND the Future!
There are short term goals and long term goals. Every person should be setting both. Short term goals will help you accomplish things right now and can be small steps toward your long term goals. Long term goals are achieved over a longer period of time (5+ years). Both types of goals are important. For example, you might want to think about what part time job you want this summer, but you also should be thinking towards what career you might want in the future.

*This article was adapted from our "Living Out Loud" goal setting workshop. To book an LOL workshop, visit our LOL webpage.
What have you done today to make you feel proud? Think about it as you watch and listen to this uplifting song!
What have you done today  
There's An App For That! 
Did you know that your iPiPhone screen with appshone, iPod, and iPad can help you reach your goals? It's true! Check out these awesome FREE apps related to goal setting and achieving your dreams.
Everest makes it easier to achieve your personal goals. Build your Dream Team to stay motivated, easily track your progress, and get suggestions when you're stuck.
Checkmark is meant to help you achieve your daily goals. Write down what you want to achieve today. Check them off when you're done. Helps you keep track of your success.
S.M.A.R.T. Goals (iPad only)
S.M.A.R.T. is a system for achieving your goals. This application helps you learn about S.M.A.R.T., set goals for yourself, and prepare an action plan for each goal.
Productivity Wizard is a powerful "get things done" system that will help you plan, focus and create the results you want in any area of your life.
Sociidot gets you to really think about the life you want to be living and create your own story. Then, you come up with goals and action steps to make this story a reality.
Make your own bucket list! This app has over 700 ideas that you can browse.
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!

newspaper Be on the lookout for our March issue focused on leadership!