YOUTH POWER nothing about us without us YP!

In this eNews
YP! Awarded DDPC Youth Leadership Forum and Network Contract
in a region near YOUth YOUTH POWER! is thrilled to announce that we have been awarded a contract by the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC)to develop and implement a New York State Youth Advocacy and Leadership Project Network program entitled AMPLIFY-NY for a five year period. The purpose of AMPLIFY-NY is to reach across New York State to provide opportunities to youth, diversified in disabilities and ethnicities, to build self-ad vocacy and leadership skills as well as self-confidence, empowerment, and self-determ ination.
Beginning in January 2017, YOUTH POWER! will be replicating the National You th Leadership Forum model and providing ongoing advocacy and leadership skill development and mentoring for transition-aged youth with developmental and other disabilities ages 14-24.  YP! will also be partnering partnering with Families Together in NYS, INCLUDEnyc, and Parent to Parent of NYS to develop a companion training for caregivers. Over the 5 year period we will host youth forums and parent trainings throughout the DDPC's five regions of the state. YP! will also be working in conjunction with DDPC Grant 2 grantee, Cornell University, who will serve as a key support and evaluator. 
This project will be led for and by self-advocates and will enhance the existing YOUTH POWER! network. "We are excited to have a new project that engages young people 14-24 in a multi-day event to strengthen disability pride and leadership skills." said Stephanie Orlando, Executive Director. Reflecting on the importance of giving young people the opportunity to speak up so that they can value their own voices and be heard, AMPLIFY-NY will amplify the voices of young people and the opportunities they have to take on lead ership roles. This project incorporates the elements of a successful leadership model, including mentoring, multi-sensory curriculum, experiential and team-based learning, multi-media education, technological and social media communication, peer support, focus groups, and group discussions. The Youth Leadership Forums will also include mentoring, panel presentations, and opportunities to practice advocacy/ leadership skills, as well as an accompanying training program for family caregivers, focusing on teaching, modeling, and supporting family members to continue practicing self-advocacy and other skills and plan for transitions.  
For questions about AMPLIFY-NY, please contact  or 518-432-0333 ext. 31.
ACCES-VR is Seeking Input on Policy Changes that Affect YOUth
NYSED Education Department Adult Career and Continuing ED Services Logo
Do you have experience receiving employment and transition services?
Are you a young person with a disability and/or emotional/behavioral challenges? 
Do/Did you receive special education services such as an IEP? 
Are you receiving ACCES-VR services, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

If you answered yes to any of these questions than these new policies affect YOU and you have the right to not only be informed, but amplify your voice on your experiences and what you would like to see changed!

With a new federal law called the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), agencies across the state and nation will be working to change their policies to better serve YOU in starting a career with the supports you need.

The New York State Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services - Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR), with the State Rehabilitation Council, is seeking your input on their proposed policy changes to make sure their services fit the new requirements.They will be holding public meetings for individuals with disabilities, their families, advocates, employers, and services providers to provide comments and assist in the development of these policies. The public comment period will be from November 8, 2016, through December 23, 2016. 

During the public meetings, you have the opportunity to speak for 5 minutes to give comments and recommendations. You can also submit them in writing or electronically.  Written comments can be sent to: NYS Education Department, ACCES-VR Resource Development Unit-EBA 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12234. Electronic submissions can be sent to

Location Date Time
Harlem State Office Building, 163 W 124th St, New York, NY 10027 November 8, 2016 10am-1pm
Rochester ACCES-VR District  Office, 109 South Union St, Rochester, NY 14607

Video-conferencing sites:
 Buffalo, Hauppauge, Malone, Southern Tier - Binghamton, and Syracuse ACCES-VR District Offices.
November 10, 2016 10am-1pm
Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Ave, Albany NY 12210 November 17, 2016 12:30pm-3:30pm
Garden City ACCES-VR District Office, 711 Stewart Avenue, Suite 4, Garden City, NY 11530

Video-conferencing site: Queens ACCES-VR District Office
November 22, 2016 10am-1pm
Call in number for comments if unable to attend:
Dial-in #:  1-866-394-2346
Conference Code:  1492305463
December 5, 2016 9:30am-12pm

Click here for the flyer.

Click here for more information on the policy changes and tips on creating your comments.

Join YOUTH POWER! in Amplifying Our Voices across the state. For more information on how you can team up with YP! at these forums, or for assistance with your comments, please contact Brianna Valesey at or

Calling All Monroe County Youth 14-24, Amplify Your Voices at the SWAT Youth Forum on November 16
SWAT logo
SWAT Youth Council Presents: Your Voice Matters 2016!

Join SWAT at their upcoming forum to share your voice in review of their 2016 priorities. Your contribution will advise SWAT for 2017! This forum is to help SWAT amplify youth voice in Monroe County.

They will be discussing issues you care about, what helps and what hurts, and current concerns and trends.

Where: 1099 Jay Street, Building J, Third Floor
When: November 16, 2016
Time: 4:00pm - 7:00pm (Pizza will be present!)
Contact Bianca Logan by noon on Tuesday, November 15 to register at 585-753-2638 or

SWAT members will be there in partnership with County Leadership and system planners to learn more about what matters to Monroe County youth and how to help improve their System of Care. You can also have the opportunity to help inform the future vision of SWAT. Your voice matters!
Member Spotlight: Monster of Fifty-Nine Moons by Marc Rosen
Photo of Marc Rosen on the left and the cover of Monster of Fifty Nine Moons on the right
YP! Board Member, Marc Rosen, published a new book titled Monster of Fifty-Nine Moons and Other Poems. Through his work, Marc explores topics that many people are often afraid to talk about and the labels and hardships he has faced throughout his life. Utilizing his poetry for activism, Marc reflects on his experiences, lessons he's learned, and visions for the future. 

Read below for YP!'s interview and check out Marc's book through the following link:

YP!:  How did you first get into writing?
MR: I don't remember how I first got into writing.  I remember suddenly starting when I was 10 or so, mostly fiction at the time with brief forays into letters to the editor of Newsday once I was in high school (I often lied about my age and location to get those published without parental permission).  This led to me writing as a freelance journalist on in my junior and senior years, with a strong focus on autistic issues.  I had the good fortune to profit a little off of certain people who couldn't help coming back to troll my articles.  Of course, it also got me a bullet in the mail, but that's rotting in an evidence locker somewhere and none of my concern.  I didn't start writing poetry until college, and wouldn't have done much with it had I not been "discovered" in a capstone writing course I took in my senior year.

YP!:  What is your favorite thing you've ever created and why?
MR: I'd have to say my favorite works have to be  Perspectives: Poetry Concerning Autism and Other Disabilities, volumes 1 and 2.   Perspectives was my start, the beginning of my broader work as an activist and spokesman overall.  It also marked the first time I worked directly with the man who shoved me into the poetry community, James Wagner, the lead editor and publisher of  Perspectives (as well as my book), long before I even considered putting out my own book.

YP!:  In the Afterword, you mention that attending your first poetry reading and discovering the poetry community existed inspired you to create this book. Can you explain a little more about how that inspired you?
MR: In the Afterword, I also mention that I was "kidnapped" (brought without my prior knowledge) to my first poetry reading.  I was not exaggerating, though I was a willing passenger.  Before that reading, I had no idea people actually went out of their way to get together and read their poetry in public.  The idea horrified me, and I was actually  ashamed to be known as a poet at first.  I wasn't always the "proud freak" you know and love, but the poetry community is what spurred me to get there.  Wouldn't have changed much about how that came about (and most of what I would change are personal mistakes that can't be fixed).

YP!:  What advice would you have for someone who is thinking about taking their poetry/writing to the next step?
MR: I'd suggest sending stuff in for calls for submissions, even if you don't think they'll take it.  When you do, I'm saying this as an editor,  read the submissions guidelines first and do what they say!  I've seen literally hundreds of first-time poets published in our anthologies, in the Local Gems chapbook contest, and through so many other contests, projects, and even the occasional national/international collection.  It may SEEM like there's nothing between your high school writing club and those snooty academic things that only publish you if you have the  PERFECT connections, but there are actually tons of local, regional, and subject-specific opportunities out there if you look carefully enough.  Long Island, NYC, Albany, Rochester, just to name a few, all have rather large poetry communities (Long Island even has a community e-news, curated by one of our community's matriarchs), and if you ask around at open mics, workshops and such, you might just stumble your way in like I did.  For example, you can join in on this collaborative online OtaRenga:

If you're ready to publish your own book, there are free guides available on the nuts and bolts of that out there.  My publisher, Local Gems Poetry Press, offers a free ebook that guides you through the process, at .  Mine only came together with 
heavy  assistance from James, but once you have a little guidance, the compiling stage is a cinch.
Are You Working Hard to Amplify Our Voices? Show Us How In This Year's Newsletter!
Call for Submission. Art and activism_ poetry_ short stories_ graphic arts_ signs and posters_ inspirational quotes_ essays
Show us how you Amplify Our Voices 
across the state in this year's annual newsletter!

We are seeking submissions such as poetry, short stories, quotes, essays, photos, and artwork for this year's newsletter, Amplify Our Voices. Whether it was an event, campaign, conference, speak out, activity, a way of strengthening group efforts, etc., we want to hear about it!

Submission for the newsletter are due by November 30, 2016. Submissions can be sent to Brianna Valesey via:
Fax: 518-434-6478
Mail: 737 Madison Avenue, Albany NY 12208
Facebook: message

Opportunity for interviews to take place of written submissions! Contact Brianna Valesey at the above information for more details.
Want to be a part of the team creating the newsletter?
Join the Outreach Workgroup! 

This workgroup creates ways to grow the YP! network and strengthen its voice. The workgroup reaches out to current and potential members regularly. YP! promotional materials, media and news are created by this group.

Meetings can be joined by phone, web, or app and take place monthly. The next meeting will be on Wednesday, December 7th at 7pm.

If you have any questions regarding the newsletter, or are interested in joining the Outreach Workgroup, please contact Brianna Valesey at or by phone at 518-432-0333 ext. 31.
Member Spotlight: Kaylin Corbran - Fostering Advocacy and Abilities
photo of Kaylin wearing a YOUTH POWER_ shirt and holding a sign that states _ I don_t have a disability_ I have ABILITY_
What do you do when you are asked to do something that you have never done before? If you are anything like Kaylin Corbran you embrace it! Kaylin does not let her disabilities stop her from being a kind, and passionate advocate for herself and others.  Kaylin found herself being asked to develop a resource page for youth with disabilities through her internship at The Parent Network of Western New York. She was both excited and scared because she had never done anything like this before but being the determined person that she is, she accepted.

As a youth with a disability, Kaylin felt she did not have all the support that she needed growing up. When she was asked to make a resource website Kaylin took the opportunity to let others know what was available to them. She wanted youth to know that they do not have to struggle alone.

As youth we often rely on our parents or caregivers to make the right decisions for us but as youth we have our own wants, needs, desires and, most importantly, our own voice! Kaylin wanted to provide youth with the resources to speak up for themselves, so she did just that. She held youth only focus groups to determine the needs of youth and began developing the resource page.
Screenshot of the Youth Empowerment page with the Parent Network of Western New York in the upper right corner.

The resource page targets youth between the ages of 14-25 and covers areas of Self-Advocacy, College, Work, Social Groups, Transportation, and Housing on local, state, and national levels. The goal was to empower youth to speak up for themselves and their rights through education and empowerment.

Kaylin worked with The Parent Network of Western New York to develop the Youth Empowerment page. It can be found on in Information & Resources under Youth Empowerment. Kaylin currently is an active member of YOUTH POWER!. She is a member of our Regional Team, and Action Work Group and also is a part of the Housing Independence Action Coalition. Kaylin is currently attending Daemon University. She will be graduating this January with her degree in Social Work and plans to go on to get her Masters. 
Seeking Applications for the Central Regional Youth Partner Position
image of desk with empty chair in front of YP office graffiti. Are you the Next Regional Youth Partner is written across the image
Don't Miss This Opportunity! Help Coordinate Youth Advocacy Efforts in the Central Region.

Regional Youth Partners are peer leaders that connect local youth groups, coordinate regional youth advocacy efforts and provide technical assistance on youth engagement and peer support. YP! is currently seeking applications for the Central Regional Youth Partner position. 

Register for the 2017 FTNYS Legislative Awareness Day
Legislative Awareness Day Save the Date

Join hundreds of family members, youth, advocates and state leaders from across the state for the Families Together in New York State Legislative Awareness Day and Luncheon on  Tuesday, February 14, 2017   at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Albany, New York.  All are invited to meet with legislators, network with other families, and share your valuable voice, experience and ideas! 
Lunch is provided- this is a free event. 

Registration and Legislative Meetings: 10am-12pm
Free Lunch Served at 12pm
Speakers from 12pm-2:30pm

To register, please click here

For more information, contact Brad Hansen at 518-432-0333 ext 28 or
What's New With Superintendent Determination
YP Youth Policy Update
By Melanie Hecker

Recently, a new graduation pathway called Superintendent Determination was put in place. Under Superintendent Determination, a student with Math and English scores of at least 55 can be awarded a local diploma if the superintendent chooses to award one based on classroom performance. The student would have to have taken the Science and Social Studies exams but does not have to pass them.

When the pathway was first introduced, the superintendent made the decision without the parent or student requesting it. This caused a lot of problems. The superintendent made the decision without having to consult the student's IEP, teachers, parents, or the student them self. The student also did not have the option to decline the local diploma, meaning if the student wanted a Regent's diploma or a Career and Occupational Studies Credential they were unable to obtain one. The pathway has been changed so that the parent has to request the Superintendent Determination. This would solve the problem of parents, teachers, and students not having to be involved. It also means students who want to pursue a Regent's diploma or Career and Occupational Studies Credential can pursue one, provided the parent agrees.

While the new change has fixed some of the problems with Superintendent Determination, it has not fixed them all. What it doesn't fix is the fact that the local diploma that this pathway awards is only available to students with disabilities. Not only can this lead to hiring discrimination, but it also advocates for lower standards for special education students. It is also a problem that those students who receive the diploma become ineligible for further special services, including those geared towards transition.

One of the projects of the YP! Action Working Group is to advocate for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma. To join or for more info, contact Melanie Hecker at . For more information on the Multiple Pathways to a Diploma Campaign, visit
Great Opportunities with the Action Workgroup!
silhouette of person holding megaphone with ACTION! written across in red If you are looking for a way to gain experience, build a resume, and make your voice heard, join the Action Workgroup! 
Action is the team that carries out YP!'s advocacy priorities. We create campaigns based on the priority agenda. Current campaigns include The Campaign for Multiple Pathways to a Diploma and The Sexual Health and Healthy Relationships campaign.

To join or for more info, contact Melanie Hecker at or 518-432-0333 ex 14.   
FTNYS Seeking Youth & Family Input to Guide their 2017 Policy Agenda
FTNYS logo
Each year, Families Together in New York State(FTNYS) releases a Policy Agenda to guide their advocacy and policy initiatives. The voices of youth, families, and friends from across New York State inform the development of their annual priorities.

With a quick survey, YOUth can help guide FTNYS advocacy and policy initiatives. The deadline to complete this survey is January 6, 2016. Visit to complete the survey.

If you have any questions, please contact Brad Hansen, Public Policy Coordinator at or 518-432-0333 ext. 28.
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!

Click on the campaigns below for more information on how you can team up to Speak Up and Speak Out! 

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 or resource above? Let us know
New Resource: The Disability Resource Clearinghouse
New York State of Opportunity. Justice center for the Protection of People with Special Needs logo with a photo in the background of people in cubicles
The Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs has a new online source of information on disability-related programs, services, information and laws. 

The Disability Resource Clearinghouse connects people with disabilities in all settings, their families, caregivers, advocates and other stakeholders with links to dozens of state and federal agencies and national non-profit organizations.

Featured topics include accessibility, assistive technology, benefits, disaster/emergency preparedness, education, employment, health and wellness, housing, transportation and voting. The Clearinghouse can be accessed at
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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