Youth Leadership and Advocacy Project
Young people have a great deal to contribute to the current advocacy environment. Today’s youth with developmental disabilities (DD) have grown up in a time when the rights of people with disabilities have been established through important civil rights acts that were passed over the last 30 years. However, youth with DD often need training to fully understand their rights and how to effectively advocate for those rights so that they can become fully integrated and included into all aspects of community life. Teaching leadership and advocacy skills to youth with DD gives them a voice while providing assurance that disability advocacy will continue into the next generation.
Increase the leadership and advocacy skills of 30 Texas youth with DD each year.
Texas A&M built ongoing cooperative relationships with the three existing regional Youth Leadership Forums (YLF) to coordinate training activities and the selection delegates for the youth leadership and advocacy project. The delegate application process was developed to collect demographic and interest information through questions, an essay, and recommendation letters. Applicants were recruited through regional YLFs, email blasts to past delegates and participants, presentations at conferences, regional education service centers, school district personnel, and Texas advocacy groups.
A four-day intensive training event was held every year for all five years of the project at St. Edward’s University. Participants had access to meeting spaces, dorm rooms, and food services. Travel accommodations, medical providers, interpreters, and other necessary services were secured as required. Delegates received tours through the State Capitol Building, including mock testimonials.
Advisors were selected for each delegate to guide them through completion of a leadership project. Advisors contacted the delegates twice monthly, developed a report of delegate progress, and reported progress to project staff.