TCDD Announces Youth Ambassadors
for The Center on Youth Voice, Youth Choice Program
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The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) is proud to announce the selection of four exceptional youth ambassadors for our Center on Youth Voice, Youth Choice (CYVYC) program. This initiative, backed by a five-year grant from the U.S. Administration on Community Living, marks a significant step in promoting alternatives to guardianship for young adults with developmental disabilities (DD).
The four selected youth ambassadors will participate in a comprehensive training program that explores alternatives to guardianship for people with DD. Following the training, the ambassadors will share what they have learned with their communities. Encouraged to use their creativity and individuality, ambassadors will choose a medium for spreading information about guardianship alternatives. Past ambassadors have shared information through videos, podcasts, and phone apps.
Meet the Youth Ambassadors
Kason Erwin is from Lago Vista and is 16 years old. At his school, he is the football and boys’ basketball manager. He is also in PALS (Peer Assistance and Leadership), where he serves as a role model and mentor for students in his district. Kason works as a kitchen assistant at a local restaurant and volunteers with the Point Venture Leo Club, which participates in community service projects. After high school, he plans on attending a post-secondary program for students with intellectual disabilities so that he can experience college like his friends. When he finishes college, he would like to work for a college or NFL football team as a manager.
In his free time, Kason likes to wakeboard, swim, snow ski, and play golf and basketball. He also enjoys playing video games and hanging out with friends. Kason says, “I like to speak up and advocate for people with disabilities like myself. My main dream is to inspire people and show them they can do anything they set their minds to. I am thankful for this opportunity and look forward to learning more about options for guardianship.”
Matthew Leos is 16 years old and is from Brownsville. He is the youngest in his family and he loves his family very much. When he grows up, he wants to be a deputy sheriff just like his dad. He loves going to the beach, especially South Padre Island where he likes going on boat tours to watch the dolphins. He also likes hanging out with his friends and playing video games. He loves playing sports and is in football, basketball, boxing, and track. His favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys, and his dream this year is to go to a Dallas Cowboy football game and watch them play live.
Matthew has won awards at school, including being on the Honor Roll and being his school’s prom king. He was recently featured in a local news segment, discussing the importance of inclusive school sports. Matthew is learning to drive and is excited to buy his first truck one day. He is involved in his community as a volunteer and is now an ambassador with a local nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities at events.
Paola Martinez is 14 years old and lives in Dallas. She has a twin brother and they both are neurodivergent with intellectual disabilities. Paola enjoys going skating on weekends and has a fixation on drawing, which has brought her opportunities to present her artwork at various district competitions and win certificates and medals. Her favorite subjects are mathematics and science. She is looking forward to graduating from college to start studying for her career. Paola has had the opportunity to take a role in self-advocacy with her brother, and especially now with her own diagnosis. She says, “I’m aware I can advocate for my academic necessities, functionals and independence and want to learn more about advocacy to aid me and others.”
Paola wants to learn and give back to people like her in the DD community and help spread awareness for children with disabilities. She enjoys talking with people her age, especially younger generations, saying “I want to hear their opinions and preferences and ideas in relation to guardianship advocacy.”
Ashley Sattler is 26 years old and was born and raised in Beaumont. She has an intellectual disability as well as autism, displacement disorder, and a learning disorder. Her favorite all-time hobby and interest is anything with arts and crafts. She has made a successful living out of doing something she loves and is the go-to person among friends and colleagues for art and graphic design. Ashley says, “One thing that I am most proud of is making and publishing the communication board. I love helping people and making the city have more inclusion.”
TCDD is thrilled to have these individuals join our team as Youth Ambassadors. We are excited to see their growth and contributions to disability advocacy in the state of Texas. Together, we will work to develop, share, and implement innovative strategies so people with DD can exercise their right to self-determination.