2016 AZYLF Summary Report

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Arizona Youth Leadership Forum (AZYLF) For Students and Transitioning Young Adults Who Have Disabilities 2016 was held at Arizona State University in Phoenix, June 12-17, 2016. Representatives from 10 agencies, including several that have statewide service responsibility, and 10 AZYLF Alumni participated in the planning and execution of AZYLF 2016. Comprehensive staff training for 16 volunteers, 100% of which were people who have disabilities, 67% of which were AZYLF Alumni, was held on June 11, 2016.

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“Be the bestest person you can be, be open minded and as optimistic as you can. Love yourself for what you are and never give up.” F.V., Class of 2016

Throughout the course of AZYLF, 20 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 with consistent staff to assist and ensure 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:

  • “I Have A Disability, But It Doesn’t Have Me!…and other lessons from a wickedsuperflyzillacool lady who has been there, done that…” by Melissa Ann Santora
  • “History of Independent Living and Disability as a Culture” by Larry Wanger
  • “Disability and Identity” by SD Cramer
  • “AZYLF Alumni Association: Get involved Stay Engaged” by AZYLF Alumni Association Executive Committee
  • “Voter Project” by George Garcia, Jolene DeTiege, Monica Cooper, and Bill Lucero
  • “Employment First: The Expectation and Beyond” by Nicholas Love
  • “Gimme a V! Gimme a R! What do ya got? A FUTURE!!!” by Betty Schoen
  • “Assistive Technology?! What’s That All About?!” by Donna Powers and Clayton Guffey
  • Parents and Young Adults: Strengthening Communication Strategies, Raising Special Kids Panel
  • “Maricopa Skill Center: Education That Works” by Matthew Castner
  • “Disability Student Services: How to Prepare for Higher Education” by Judy DuSell
  • “Building Your Resume:” and Nail That Interview” by Katy Mendoza
  • “Special Olympics Arizona: Activating and Unifying Youth” by Kevin McGee
  • “Disability History in the Making: The Year In Review” by AZYLF Alumni Association Executive Committee

Two workshops were offered for Delegate parents and supporters, entitled “High Expectations and Self-Advocacy for All!” and “Priorities, Options, and Opportunities, Oh My!” in conjunction with AZYLF partner, Raising Special Kids.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Never be an outcast. Making friends is not impossible.  Accept compliments. Have a sense of humor.”  J.B., Class of 2016

AZYLF 2016 included several educational and experiential opportunities away from the ASU Campus. Public transportation was utilized for all outings, which included cheering on the Arizona Diamondbacks (and a few cheered for the Dodgers) at Chase Field, working out and swimming at the Ability360 Sports and Fitness Center, a state of the art accessible fitness center, and a trip to the Arizona State Capitol, which included a tour and exciting presentation by Representative Reginald Bolding.

Further, AZYLF spent a day at the Maricopa Skill Center, learning about higher education and career opportunities, as well as supports and resources available for post-secondary education and training. In addition, community members from 9 organizations came in and worked with each Delegate to build a resume and conduct a mock job interview for each of them, which culminated in helpful feedback, tips, and encouragement for interviewing in the future.

Service was emphasized at AZYLF 2016, and Delegates were asked to perform and document a minimum of 5 hours of service in their respective communities prior to attending. Additionally, as a group, AZYLF spent a morning at the St. Mary’s Food Bank, where together they moved 20,400 pounds of food, packages into 1,200 Emergency Food Boxes, resulting in 51,000 meals for food insecure families.3 “I want to remind my community that ‘I do have a disability, but it doesn’t have me!’ and even though I have a disability it doesn’t mean I can’t do anything.” H.P., Class of 2016

Seven Delegates campaigned for the AZYLF Class of 2016 Leadership Team to represent the voice of their peers in matters related to disability in Arizona, and the three elected were announced by members of the 2015 AZYLF Leadership Team at the AZYLF Commencement Ceremony and Recognition Banquet, which was held on the final evening of AZYLF. Planning and Delegate Selection Committee members, AZYLF partners and supporters, and presenters were in attendance. Thirteen AZYLF Alumni presented at the Ceremony by providing the Welcome Address, formally recognizing Supporters, Presenters, Staff, and by giving the Keynote, and AZYLF Alumni Association Address. The evening was rounded out by Presentation of the 2016 AZYLF Graduates, 18 of whom shared testimony of their AZYLF experience. There were many laughs, many tears, and many fond memories made by all. The Ceremony was followed by a celebratory dance.

All Delegates received a binder containing the comprehensive AZYLF curriculum, a flash drive with supplemental materials, and an AZYLF t-shirt. Facilitated by AZYLF Staff, including 5 trained AZYLF Alumni, each Delegate participated in Person Centered Planning and developed their own, individualized, Personal Leadership Plan. Each Graduate will receive support for implementing their Plan from an AZYLF Staff member who will serve as a Mentor for them throughout the coming year.
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“I am learning to accept myself   for who I am and what I plan to become. AZYLF showed me to  never be afraid to try new things.  It opened my eyes to different things. The person we want to be is the person we decide to become.”
J.T., Class of 2016

Photographs and comments can be found on www.azylf.org, and www.facebook.com/AZYLF.

Pre and Post AZYLF Surveys were completed by the 20 Delegates. The following is a summary of the data collected:

Demographic Information:

A total of 20 youth who have disabilities participated in and completed AZYLF 2016.
The Gender composition of the youth was as follows:

Male=55%                            Female=46%

 

The Current Grade or Level of Education reported by the youth was as follows:

Sophomore=0%                   Senior=35%

Junior=10%                           High School Graduate/Not in School=5%

GED/Post-Secondary Transition Program=15%

Some College/Technical/Vocational School=35%

The Ethnicity or Ethnicities per self-report of the youth was:

American Indian=25%                               Asian/Pacific Islander=5%           Black/African American=10%                    Caucasian/White=40%

Hispanic/Latino=35%                                 Alaska/Hawaii Native=5%

 

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

Learning=20%                                             Cerebral Palsy=15%

Mental Health=10%                                  Cognitive/Developmental/Intellectual=10%

Vision=10%                                                   Hearing=5%

Genetic=5%                                                 Autism Spectrum Disability=25%

Neurological=10%                                      Acquired=10%

 

The Arizona County representation was as follows:

Coconino=5%                                   Maricopa=75%                                Pima=10%

Navajo=5%                                       Yuma=5%

 

Prior to AZYLF 31% of the youth who participated in AZYLF 2016 had never made an overnight trip without their parent. In addition, 22% of the youth had never visited a college campus, while 50% had visited a few times.

 

Findings:

According to self-report, 33% of the youth who participated in AZYLF 2016, receive benefits from Social Security Administration, 13% receive services from Department of Rehabilitation, 40% receive Mental Health Counseling, 6% receive Department of Social Services, 6% receive Employment Services, and 0% receive Independent Living Center Services.

In regard to Employment, 55% of youth who participated in AZYLF 2016 are currently going to school and not working, 35% are engaged in service, 10% are working with a Job Coach or other Supported Employment opportunity, 5% are going to school and working, and 5% are receiving Disability Benefits and not seeking employment.

In regard to Transportation, 50% of youth who participated in AZYLF 2016 travel with Parent/Friend, 50% walk, 10% use transit for people who have disabilities, 10% use public transportation, 15% bike, 35% car pool, 10% use taxi service

In regard to use of community services, 45% of youth who participated in AZYLF 2016 independently access recreational facilities, 50% independently access stores, 5% independently access banks, 20% access restaurants independently, and 40% do not access any of these community services independently.

In regard to post high school plans, 40% of youth who participated in AZYLF 2016 plan to attend community college, 30% plan to attend a four year college, 10% plan to attend vocational or technical school, 20% plan to engage in employment, 5% plan to pursue an advanced college degree, and 10% plan to participate in adult education. In regard to career plans, 84% of youth who participated in AZYLF 2016 have identified an area of interest, while 16% have not.

In regard to social support, 45% of the youth who participated in AZYLF 2016 indicated that their friends are both people who do and do not have disabilities, while 15% indicated that most of their friends do not have a disability, and 40% indicated that most of their friends do have disabilities. In addition, 25% get together with friends more than once a week, 10% get together with friends once a week, 20% get together with friends less than once a week, and 45% rarely get together with friends. Further, 25% of the youth reported participating in social activities more than once a week, while 20% reported participating once a week, 35% reported participating less than once a week, and 20% reported rarely participating in activities such as dances, movies, and sporting events.

 

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

QUESTION Pre-AZYLF Response Post-AZYLF Response
How familiar are you with the Americans with Disabilities Act? I know a lot: 0%

I know a little: 60%

I don’t know much: 40%

I know a lot: 70%

I know a little: 30%

I don’t know much: 0%

How familiar are you with the Federal Rehabilitation Act? I know a lot: 0%

I know a little: 40%

I don’t know much: 60%

I know a lot: 50%

I know a little: 50%

I don’t know much: 0%

How familiar are you with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act? I know a lot: 0%

I know a little: 32%

I don’t know much: 68%

I know a lot: 36%

I know a little: 64%

I don’t know much: 0%

How familiar are you with

Centers for Independent Living?

I know a lot: 0%

I know a little: 15%

I don’t know much: 85%

I know a lot: 30%

I know a little: 70%

I don’t know much: 0%

How familiar are you with

Rehabilitation Services/Vocational Rehabilitation?

I know a lot: 0%

I know a little: 50%

I don’t know much: 50%

I know a lot: 50%

I know a little: 50%

I don’t know much: 0%

How familiar are you with Higher Education/Career Development? I know a lot: 0%

I know a Little: 40%

I don’t know much: 60%

I know a lot: 85%

I know a little: 15%

I don’t know much: 0%

How familiar are you with Leadership? I know a lot: 0%

I know a little: 70%

I don’t know much: 30%

I know a lot: 100%

I know a little: 0%

I don’t know much: 0%

How familiar are you with Advocacy? I know a lot: 0%

I know a Little: 30%

I don’t know much: 70%

I know a lot: 60%

I know a little: 40%

I don’t know much: 0%

How familiar are you with Disability History/Culture? I know a lot: 0%

I know a little: 25%

I don’t know much: 75%

I know a lot: 70%

I know a little: 30%

I don’t know much: 0%

“I learned about showing people I can be a good leader. Also, showing all peers I can do what others can do, and most importantly, you’re never alone. You always have supporters right behind you. You could end up being a role model for young ones and you don’t even know it. Thanks to AZYLF I now have all these skills to show others and hopefully surprise them.”     S.C., Class of 2016

QUESTION Pre-AZYLF Response Post-AZYLF Response
How familiar are you with

Transition to Adulthood?

I know a lot: 0%

I know a little: 20%

I don’t know much: 80%

I know a lot: 55%

I know a little: 45%

I don’t know much: 0%

How familiar are you with the American Legislative Process? I know a lot: 0%

I know a little: 15%

I don’t know much: 85%

I know a lot: 35%

I know a little: 65%

I don’t know much: 0%

How familiar are you with IEP/504 Plans? I know a lot: 0%

I know a little: 45%

I don’t know much: 55%

I know a lot: 42%

I know a little: 58%

I don’t know much: 0%

How familiar are you with Disability Services in Arizona? I know a lot: 0%

I know a little: 25%

I don’t know much: 75%

I know a lot: 70%

I know a little: 30%

I don’t know much: 0%

How familiar are you with accommodations for disability? I know a lot: 0%

I know a little: 50%

I don’t know much: 50%

I know a lot: 60%

I know a little: 40%

I don’t know much: 0%

How many people who have disabilities that you know do you think of as leading successful lives? Many: 0%

At least one: 45%

Several: 45%

No one: 10%

Many: 90%

At least one: 0%

Several: 10%

No one: 0%

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“I will never forget the Staff and Delegates from the cool and epic week! We are people, not things. We are unique souls. Not repeat, not a freak. Thank you sooooo for helping me when I needed it.”   J. C., Class of 2016

 

AZYLF 2016 Delegates completed a survey of topics 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:

Topic Response
Information on Living on my Own 75%
Help with Money Management 80%
Recreation/Leisure Services 15%
Where to find Financial Assistance for College 45%
Employment or Job Training Service 100%
Assistance in finding a Place to Live 35%
Help to get Adaptive Equipment 40%
Medical or Health Care Services 10%
Information on Housing 20%
On-the-Job Support 60%
Legal Services 0%
Home Living Skills 55%
Higher Education/Military 75%
Transportation 45%

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 “AZYLF taught me that there are words out there that can abuse someone’s feelings. Words can mean so many things. A Resume is something you need to keep updated. An interview is a way your employer knows more about you.”    N.L., Class of 2016

Click here to download the presentation in PDF or RTF format