The National Youth Leadership Network connects youth activists together. We currently work with organizations in three states. We call these organizations our state partners. Each state partner is completely different, but all are youth-led disability organizations. The state partners are their own organizations and make all of their own decisions. For the last three years, NYLN has given them mini-grants and traveled to their states to host trainings.
Our state partners have helped us with the Reap What You Sow: Harvesting Support Systems project. The Disabled Young People’s Collective and Youth Power! helped us develop the curriculum by testing curriculum activities. Members of the Youth Leadership Network of Idaho and the Disabled Young People’s Collective helped us with coordinating the Institute.
MEET OUR STATE PARTNERS!
The Disabled Young People’s Collective is a group of disabled youth working to build community in North Carolina. We are activists, advocates, and friends between the ages of 15 and 28 years old. We want to fight ableism. One of the things we are most proud of is fighting for Disability History Month legislation and then creating zines, puppet shows, videos, skits, a rap and other activities to teach disability history in schools. We’ve done organized a lot of events so youth can learn about social justice. We work from a collective model of organizing, which means instead of having a president and advisors, we all make the decisions together.
Youth Leadership Network Idaho empowers young people with disabilities in Idaho. Our main goal is to create strong leaders. We believe that transition happens through service learning. Peers lead peers. We serve our communities with three priorities. They are disability education, advocacy, and access. We take part in community building activities on the national, state, and local levels. We feel that full-inclusion is important. We are still working on a website.
YOUTH POWER! is a network of young people seeking change. We live in New York State. Together, we have decided to speak up about our experiences. No one knows what it is like for us better than we do. We really prioritize peer-to-peer mentoring. We empower young people to be active citizens that are aware of government operations. We also emphasize our rights and our ability to use our voices to change policies, practices, and laws. We are young people helping other people. We ensure that self-help and peer support are available to people. We work to change systems so that young people get the support they need with the respect and dignity they deserve. Nothing About Us Without Us!
NYLN welcomes the Delaware Youth Leadership Initiative (DYLI) as our newest state partner!
DYLI’s mission is to prepare youth with disabilities and special healthcare needs to be effective self-advocates. DYLI is made up of leaders who are ready and willing to make a difference. Fostering self-determination and leadership is the core of the disability community in Delaware. Staci Forrest, NYLN Board Member, is leading this initiative. “Creating an organization such as DYLI takes a tremendous amount of work,” Forrest attested. “It comes down to dedication and patience. I have learned a lot about myself and the community.” NYLN state partners are led by young leaders creating change on local levels. NYLN links state partners and provides national technical assistance to promote local success.
NYLN also works with folks in Mississippi through a group called My Voice, My Choice. They are not an official state partner yet because they are not youth specific but we love working with them. They worked a lot with us on the Reap What You Sow curriculum.
My Voice, My Choice of Mississippi is a group of people with developmental disabilities from across Mississippi. Our mission is to empower individuals with disabilities to believe in themselves and gain the life skills needed to be productive citizens in their community and to overcome everyday challenges. My Voice My Choice of Mississippi works to educate people with disabilities about self-advocacy and self-determination. We also work to raise awareness about disability issues to the larger community.