YOUTH POWER nothing about us without us YP!

In this eNews
Take It From Us: 
Autism Acceptance Webinar
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
The New York Statewide ASAN Chapter Presents:
Take It From Us: Autism Acceptance Webinar
Friday, April 29   7:00PM

April is Autism Acceptance Month! Part of Autism Acceptance is listening to what autistic people have to say. Come hear members of Autistic Self Advocacy Network-New York State talk about autism in our lives and the things that matter in the world of autism. 

Topics will include:
  • How autism affects us
  • The positive aspects of autism
  • Autism myths
  • The supports and services we receive that help us be functioning members of society

If you have any questions, please contact Melanie Hecker at

Sponsored by:
What Autism Acceptance Means to Me: 
autism acceptance is banner
By Melanie Hecker (photo via

When my parents told me at the age of ten that I am autistic, it felt like a revelation. I finally understood why I felt so different from my peers and why I seemed like such a "black sheep". 

While I may have felt this way before, much of these emotions have been lifted by being able to meet more autistics in recreation groups, through work and internships, in college, online, and through the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Not only that, but I have noticed a growing amount of people looking at autism in a different way, seeing us for our strengths and being able to understand our challenges. Despite this, we still have a long ways to go and a lot of work to do before everyone starts practicing autism acceptance.

While autism has come with a lot of challenges, it has also come with a lot of strengths. I have difficulties with social situations, including reading faces, understanding sayings and sarcasm, not being able to realize I am interrupting someone, and difficulties with conversation. I also am very sensitive to touch, smell, and sound. While these are challenges I have to face, the gifts make it all worth it. I would not have my intense interests and passions without autism, nor would I have my writing and speaking talents. But best of all, I am able to belong to a diverse community with a distinct culture and a common bond.

What Autism Acceptance means to me is being able to live in this world without being a second class citizen. It means having people look at me as a full person who simply has certain challenges as opposed to someone who is less than human and not a fully functioning member of society. It means being able to receive the accommodations and services I need to work and live independently in my community without being separated by my peers or locked away in an institution. Most importantly, it means being seen as who I am: a capable, hardworking, competent individual who simply has a few extra challenges to accommodate.
Perhaps the most difficult thing to overcome is changing public perception of autism. When people picture "autism" many picture someone who cannot do anything for them self and acts out to the point of not being able to be in society. Many people also see autism as a "disease" or "epidemic" rather than the developmental disability that it really is. Autistic people can go to college, work, get married, have children, and all of the things non-disabled people can do. In addition, autism does not magically disappear during adolescence and there are plenty of autistic teenagers and adults.

Achieving Autism Acceptance will be a long battle. Many people still have inaccurate ideas of what autism really is, thinking of it as a "disease" or think that because of the challenges have we cannot go to school, hold jobs, achieve advanced degrees, live independently, or be successful. The best thing autistic people ourselves can do is prove them wrong. Chase our dreams, earn our degrees, work our jobs, and work with the state and federal service systems to ensure we get what we need. Non-autistic allies can help by making sure myths about autism are not spread and encouraging people to look at autism in a different light.

All over the country Autistic Self Advocacy Network Chapters are preparing events for Autism Acceptance Month. These range from parties and board game socials to protesting "awareness" events that do more harm than good. As for the New York Statewide Chapter, we are to be holding an Autism Acceptance Webinar. On Friday April 29 at 7:00 PM three Autistic Self Advocacy Network New York members will discuss how autism affects us, what we feel are the positives of autism, the supports we receive that allow us to be functioning members of society, and autism myths we would like to debunk. The webinar is free and available to anyone who is interested in hearing what we have to say. If you are interested in attending the webinar, please contact Melanie Hecker at

YP!'s 4th Annual Foster Care and Mental Health Celebration: Register Today!
purple and green awareness ribbons
Fourth Annual Foster Care and Mental Health Awareness Celebration

May 24, 2016, 11:00 am-2:00 pm
Empire State Plaza, Meeting Rooms 2-4
Join us for lunch, youth and family speakers, inspiring entertainment, informational exhibitors, and more!
This event is free, however, donations are encouraged.
Register at this link:
Registration for University of YOUTH POWER! Now Open
University of YOUTH POWER_ photo collage _UYP16
It's Time to Amplify Our Voices!
Registration for #UYP16 is now open.

June 11-14, 2016, College of Saint Rose, Albany NY

UYP is a for-youth-by-youth conference that is modeled after a college experience. Young people ages 18 to 30 may register with a major of Peer Advocacy or Systems Advocacy.  

UYP is the premiere youth peer leadership conference. Youth Peer Advocates and Change Agents do not want to miss this opportunity to build skills and expand their professional network.

This year will feature YP!'s 9th Annual Leaders' Dinner. Students will have an opportunity to meet with government leaders and discuss what successes and challenges they have identified in systems serving youth and young adults.

To register or for information on scholarships, meet the professors, and tips and tricks for young leaders attending UYP, visit
Announcing New YP! Assistant Director
Kristina Hebner-Akbar headshot
Welcome to the team!
Kristina Hebner-Akbar is a passionate advocate with many years of experience providing services to youth, young adults and adults within the Mental Health System. Her passion stems from her own experiences and struggles with being labeled with a mental health diagnosis and cross-systems involvement as a young adult. She has worked in multiple roles of direct service ranging from Youth Advocate to Supported Education Counselor. Kristina has co-authored an encyclopedia article on Youth Advocacy and has been interviewed by several news outlets in NYC regarding her anti-stigma work. She also received the mPower Award in 2004 from the National Mental Health Association for her work with youth and young adults in NYC at the Mental Health Association of New York City, Inc. Kristina is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Information Sciences. 
STAR Center In Action: News, Events, and April's STAR of the Month, Alex Frisina
STAR center Logo
Every month, the STAR Center features young people across the country who are making a difference in their communities and demonstrating extraordinary leadership that you need to know about!

This month the STAR Center recognizes Alex Frisina from Stony Brook, NY, and our very own Long Island Regional Youth Partner. Click this link to view the whole monthly newsletter. Watch his video below or click here to check out his story.
STAR of The Month: April 2016 - Alex Frisina
STAR of The Month: April 2016 - Alex Frisina

Help the STAR Center make sure young people in your community are recognized and valued by nominating someone today! For more information, visit
Inform Rate Setting for Youth Peer Services!
A Message from Stephanie Orlando, Executive Director   Executive Director, Stephanie Orlando

YP! has been asked to gather information that will help inform the state in regards to youth peer service rates.  We need help from current youth peer service providers to ensure we receive the rates needed to implement quality youth peer services in the OMH waiver and State Plan services.

We have been asked to collect the following items from current youth peer service providers across systems.

1) Hourly rate of pay for Youth Peer Advocates (YPA)
2) Current rates charged for youth peer services
3) Information that can be helpful to indicate the cost of supervision and training of YPAs

Please complete the form at this link   It is a very simple form.  Your time and expertise are highly valued.

Please do not miss this opportunity to help establish a healthy rate for youth peer services.

Thank you for your time and commitment to peer services.
Raise the Age NY Mother's Lobby Day
New York is one of two states where 16 and 17-year-olds are treated as adults by the criminal justice system!

In honor of Mother's Day we will bring mothers whose children have been impacted by the NY adult criminal justice system and mothers concerned about their children and community's safety to Albany to advocate with state legislators to raise the age.

Please REGISTER if you want to attend Lobby Day in Albany on May 10.
Please REGISTER if you also need a FREE SEAT on the bus from Harlem to Albany on May 10. 
FOR THOSE IN NYC: Please also REGISTER to attend ONE training session.Training session will be held at the Correctional Association which is located at 2090 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. (@125th St), Suite 200, 2nd floor in New York City.  
There will also be a WEBINAR you can watch on your phone or computer if you are not in or near NYC and cannot make the in person training sessions there.
Albany, New York - Bus to Albany leaves at 6:30 AM from 2090 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd (@125 St) Harlem
To learn more or to register, click here.
YP! is Hiring: Western Regional Youth Partner
POSITION: Western Regional Youth Partner - The Regional Youth Partners are peer leaders that connect local youth groups, coordinate regional youth advocacy efforts and provide technical assistance on youth-guided practices and peer support.

LOCATION: Applicant must reside in one of the 19 counties in the region. Preferred location is Rochester.

STATUS: Full-time salary employee - $30,000+ commensurate on experience, plus benefits package

  • Must have personal life experience accessing children's mental health services and be willing to share this information publically. Additional experience with Disability, Foster Care, Addiction, or Juvenile Justice is beneficial.
  • Experience as a Youth Peer Advocate strongly preferred
  • Bachelor's or Associates Degree preferred but not required
  • Must have valid driver's license and reliable transportation
  • Must be able to travel
  • Independently motivated
  • Excellent coordination and organization skills
  • Experience with youth leadership and advocacy
  • Experience with peer support preferred
  • Excellent written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills
  • Demonstrated ability to engage with diverse groups
  • Demonstrated ability to speak with small and large groups of people
  • Experience with various software packages: Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Go-To, Google applications
Applicants must send a resume with a formal cover letter in order to be considered. The letter should indicate the title of the position that the applicant is seeking.

C lick on the title for the full posting:  Western Regional Youth Partner

If you have any questions, please contact us at
2016 Youth Transitions Fellowship Now Accepting Applications
The HSC Foundation and NCIL logos
The HSC Foundation, in partnership with the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), is now accepting applications for a paid fellowship position with the organizations' disability youth transition and collaboration work. This fellowship is ideal for a person with a disability who has an interest in youth career transitions and employment solutions. The fellowship starts in June 2016, and continues for 15 months. Under the supervision of NCIL's Executive Director, the Youth Transitions Fellow (YTF) will gain exposure to youth programs serving people with disabilities and will have the opportunity to facilitate collaboration among internship, fellowship, and apprenticeship programs based in the Greater Washington, DC area.

Preferred Skills and Qualifications:
  • Ability to facilitate collaboration among large groups
  • Ability to work with people in all levels of an organization, including young people with a variety of disabilities
  • Strong communication skills and strong organizational skills
  • Creative and innovative personality
  • Familiarity with technology and social networking tools
  • Strong interest in youth transition for people with disabilities and organizing.
College graduate 26-or-younger who self-identifies as an individual with any type of disability is invited to apply. You will not be required to disclose your specific disability; however, your application for this program will signify that you consider yourself a person with a disability. Please Note: This fellowship is specifically for people with disabilities.

Please Provide the Following to apply:
  • Please attach your resume in Microsoft Word format.
  • Please provide the contact information for four (4) references who are familiar with your qualifications relevant to this fellowship and your personal character.
  • Please attach in Microsoft Word format two (2) letters of recommendation from two (2) of the above-mentioned references.
What Happens Next:
  • Completed applications received by NCIL before 5:00 PM EDT, Tuesday, April 26, 2016 will be collected and reviewed by our team.
  • Semi-Finalists will be contacted for short, preliminary telephone interviews.
  • Finalists will be contacted for formal telephone interviews.
  • The fellow will be selected and notified by May 20, 2016.
  • The fellow must be able to begin work by June 15, 2016.
Applications must be received by 5:00 PM (Eastern Daylight Time) on or before Tuesday, April 26, 2016. 
Via Email:
Get Involved with National Campaigns!
Photo of megaphone with different social media symbols coming out
Social media is a great tool to bring awareness in our advocacy efforts.
Together, we can amplify our voices!

Current and Upcoming National Awareness Months

National Donate Life Month
Autism Acceptance Month
Child Abuse Prevention Month
Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

Mental Health Month
Foster Care Awareness Month
National Mobility Awareness Month

Want to get more involved in YP!'s Advocacy efforts?
 You can submit advocacy tips, articles, and more on topics that affect YOU! Team up with monthly, weekly, and national day campaigns and email submissions to !

Did we miss a campaign above? Let us know
Resource: 2016 National Foster Care Month Microsite

In anticipation of National Foster Care Month in May, the Children's Bureau and Child Welfare Information Gateway developed a new microsite.

It's a time to recognize that we each can play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care. This site offers an informative list of resources and additional tools to help users plan for the May observance. 

22nd Annual Moving Forward in Children's Mental Health Symposium
22nd Annual Symposium
Moving Forward in Children's Mental Health Symposium
Dreams, Detours & Destinations

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016
8:30am - 3:00pm

Melville Marriott
1350 Old Walt Whitman Road
Melville, NY 11747
Join us at the upcoming symposium for a day of networking and a series of workshops including YP!'s Alex Frisina who will be presenting on Supporting Youth Peer Advocates and Harnessing Hip hop. Click here to view the full conference program and registration info.

*Please RSVP by May 1st, 2016*

Special Thanks to
The Long Island Family Support Coalition Committee
The LI Regional Technical Assistance Team (RTAT)
Long Island Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC)
Families Together in NYS, Inc. 
Redefining Mental Health: Perspectives on Wellness and Recovery Conference

Attend this Conference with YP!! Register NOW!

Redefining Mental Health:
Perspectives on Wellness and Recovery
May 12, 2016
9:30 am to 4:15 pm
Conference location:
Putnam County Golf Course
187 Hill Street, Mahopac, NY 10541
Conference cost: $25 (includes buffet lunch)
Spend the day in bucolic Putnam County, and hear peers, family members and acclaimed national and state leaders speak about wellness, and initiate change in your way of thinking about recovery.
Come be inspired!
Key note speaker:  Gina Calhoun, Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery
Gina will share her personal journey of recovery, and inspire hope through relationships.
Other presenters include:
Stephanie Orlando and Domonica Jeffries, YOUTH POWER!; 
Harvey Rosenthal, NYAPRS; Pablo Sadler, M.D., NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene; Paul Margolies,  CPI, Columbia Psychiatry;
Kathleen Herndon, MHA Putnam; Edye Schwartz, NYAPRS; Phyllis Vine, Historian, Author, Activist;  Wendy Brennan,  NYC NAMI;  Ann Hovey,  Teacher and Consumer;
Patricia McAdam, Recovery and Job Coach; Steve Miccio, PEOPle, Inc.

A resource table will be available. Feel free to bring resource information about your available services.

If you have any questions, please contact Amy Galiano at 845-225-2700 x118 or

Sponsored by Putnam Family & Community Services, Search for Change, Mental Health Association of Putnam, PEOPLe, Inc., New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS), NAMI Putnam, Westchester Independent Living Center
Upcoming Free Webinar with Mental Health America
Thursday, April 21, 2016
2:00 PM EDT
This SAMHSA-sponsored webinar presented by Mental Health America will take place on Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time. Building relationships and support systems is an important part of recovery. Mental Health America's highly innovative  It's My Life: Social Self-Directed Care  program combined evidenced-based practices of Peer Support and Psychiatric Rehabilitation with Self-Directed Care and Life Coaching to support those in recovery and to help some of the most isolated members of our communities to become more connected to others. The program not only helped to build self-esteem and improve quality of life but also led to a reduction in crisis events and hospitalizations. The webinar will provide an overview of the program, guidance on what was learned, and a discussion of the challenges and benefits of programs integrating a focus on social connection in recovery.     

Voices4Hope: New Social Anxiety Page
image of three girls with the middle demonstrating social anxiety
Voices4Hope is a website for teenagers and young adults with mental health conditions to find resources and stigma-busting information that can help them lead happy and independent lives!

The brand-new  Social Anxiety Page and all other pages on the site are created and maintained by young adults with mental health conditions!

Please visit this new page to learn about:
  • What is social anxiety?
  • What it is like to have social anxiety
  • Techniques for coping with social anxiety
  • Personal stories of social anxiety recovery (including videos!)
  • How friends and families can help someone with social anxiety
  • Resources for social anxiety: books, websites, support groups
  • And more! 
Governor Cuomo Announces $6.8 Million to Expand Mental Health Services for Children
NYS Built to Lead
Healthy Steps for Young Children' Program will Integrate Mental Health Service Providers into Pediatric and Family Medical Practices; Program will Serve 6,650 New York Children and Families

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced $6.8 million in available funds to implement the Healthy Steps for Young Children program in 19 sites throughout New York State. This program, offered by the New York State Office of Mental Health, will fund the integration of a child and family development professional into pediatric and family medicine doctors' offices, to help identify, monitor and treat emerging behavioral and developmental health concerns in young children. 

"Early intervention can save lives, and with this funding, we are helping more children battling mental illness get on the path towards recovery," Governor Cuomo said. "This program will reach our youngest New Yorkers so that they have access to the services and support that they need for success later in life."

$6,826,728 in three-year state grants will be divided into 19 awards for medical practices throughout New York. This funding will create a Healthy Steps Specialist position at 19 pediatric and family medicine practices and provide the training and technical assistance needed to implement the program. At full implementation, it is estimated that each of these practices will deliver Healthy Steps services to 350 families, with the entire program engaging 6,650 families over three years. After the initial three-year grant program, it is expected that the Healthy Steps program will generate sufficient revenue to no longer require grant support and become self-sustainable. 

The Office of Mental Health will be accepting applications through a Request for Proposal process from pediatric and family medicine practices which would like to implement the Healthy Steps program. 

For more information on the Request for Proposal including requirements, eligibility, potential site locations, and deadlines for application, please visit 
The views and opinions expressed in third party messages and external links included in this eNews are those of the organization or individual mentioned. They do not necessarily reflect the official positions of YOUTH POWER!.
YOUTH POWER! is the New York State network of young people who have been labeled and are seeking change.  Together, we have decided to speak up about our experiences because no one knows what it is like for us better than we do.  Through peer-to-peer mentoring, we empower young people to be active citizens who are aware of government operations, their rights and the ability to use their voices to influence policies, practices, regulations and laws.  We are young people helping other people, ensuring availability of self-help and peer support while changing systems so that young people get the support they need with the respect and dignity they deserve.  Nothing About Us Without Us!

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