2014 AZYLF Report

Arizona Youth Leadership Forum (AZYLF) 2014 was held at Arizona State University in Phoenix, June 23-27, 2014. Comprehensive staff training for 15 volunteers, 85% were people who have disabilities, was held on June 22, 2014.

Representatives from 15 agencies participated in the planning of AZYLF 2014, including several agencies that have statewide service responsibility.

Throughout the course of AZYLF, the youth, referred to as Delegates, completed a personal discovery curriculum, designed to raise self-awareness and lead to goal setting in the areas of personal development, disabilities awareness, and leadership. Delegates participated in small groups of 5 or 6, with 3 consistent staff present to assist with ensuring that Delegates received their accommodations and were supported throughout the process. Two full time ASL Interpreters were present during all educational components of AZYLF. Delegates and staff were housed in the dormitory at ASU in Phoenix. In addition to the curriculum, presentations were given on the following topics, by the following presenters:

  • “Knowledge is Power: The Lessons That Could Change Your Life” by Leanne Murrillo
  • “Envisioning Your Version of You” by Erica Duncan
  • “History of Independent Living and Disability as a Culture” by Larry Wanger
  • “Becoming Informed and Engaged in the Legislative Process” by Amina Kruck, David Carey
  • “What’s Health Got To Do With It?” by Ched Salasek
  • “Assistive Technology: Access the Opportunity” by Mellowdee Brooks
  • “Disability Benefits 101: Where To Go So You Know” by Nicholas Love
  • “What in the World is Vocational Rehabilitation (and how can it help me reach my career goals)?” by Betty Schoen
  • “Partners in Preparedness” by Tony DiRienzi, Fernando Cruz
  • “Transitioning to Adulthood: Your Rights and Responsibilities” by John Gutierrez, Renaldo Fowler
  • “Transition: Been There, Done That” by Lisa Purdy, George Garcia, Jay Dashefsky, Alyssa Mills, Calvin Cook , Bill Lucero, Katie Griffith, and Edin Hozic
  • “I Have A Disability, But It Doesn’t Have Me!” by Melissa Ann Santora
  • “Finding Your Voice, Sharing Your Message” by Dan McCauley
  • “Time to Stand” by Sean Stephenson (Keynote Address at Recognition Banquet)

Delegates also participated in a Unified Sports game with Special Olympics Arizona Unified Sports Athletes, attended an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game, and participated in a tour of the Arizona State Capitol, which was conducted by Representative Steve Smith.

Eight Delegates campaigned for the AZYLF Class of 2014 Leadership Team to represent the voice of their peers in matters related to disability in Arizona. The three elected are diverse in age, gender, ethnicity, geography, and disability. Their first official responsibility will be to share their experience with Arizona SILC at the July 2014 meeting.

A recognition banquet was held on the final evening of AZYLF. Committee members, AZYLF supporters, and presenters were invited to attend. Delegates received a Graduation Certificate, and were given an opportunity to share their testimony regarding the AZYLF experience. There were many laughs, many tears, and many fond memories made by all. The banquet was followed by a dance.

Delegates received a comprehensive binder containing the AZYLF curriculum, and supplemental materials from all presenters, and an AZYLF t-shirt. In addition a Staff member will serve as a Mentor for each Delegate throughout the coming year. The mentorship relationship is designed to provide support to each Graduate as they pursue their Personal Leadership Plan goals and personal development goals.

Pre and Post AZYLF Surveys were completed by 20 of the 21 Delegates. One Delegate was a late arrival who did not Pre-Survey. Thus, Post-Survey information for this Delegate is not reported. However, Demographic Information for all 21 Delegates is provided.

Demographic Information: 

A total of 21 youth who have disabilities participated in and completed AZYLF 2014.

The Gender composition of the youth was as follows:

Male=11 Female=10

The Grade in School reported by the youth for the upcoming year was as follows:

Sophomore=25% Senior=30%

Junior=30% Other=15% (2 High School graduates, 1 GED student)

The Ethnicity per self-report of the youth was:

American of African Descent=5% American Indian=20%

Asian/Pacific Islander=0% Caucasian=40%

Latino=25% More than one ethnicity=10%

The Primary Disability per self-report of the youth is as follows:

Learning=45% Cerebral Palsy=5%

Mental Health=5% Cognitive/Developmental=5%

Visual=5% Hearing=15%

Musculoskeletal=5% Autistic Spectrum Disorder=15%

The Arizona County representation was as follows:

Cochise=5% Greenlee=5%

Navajo=5% Maricopa=60%

Pima=10%   Pinal=5%

Santa Cruz=5% Yavapai=5%


Prior to AZYLF 25% of youth had never made an overnight trip without their parent, and 50% of the youth had never visited a College Campus.

The following is a comparison of Pre and Post-AZYLF Survey results:

Delegates completed a survey of topics that they may have learned more about while at AZYLF. There were affirmative responses to each topic given, and below is a summary of those responses:

There were two responses written in under “Other,” which were: Advocacy and Leadership.