CA Students Gather For Annual Youth Leadership Forum - Ambition Trumps Disability
Sacramento, CA (WorkersCompensation.com) – Fifty-nine California high school students with disabilities gathered on the steps of the State Capitol today to show lawmakers they have the talent, drive and desire to become tomorrow’s leaders and policy makers.
The rally was part of the five-day Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) for Students with Disabilities held annually in Sacramento and designed to help the students, known as delegates, recognize and reach their full potential.
This year’s YLF, held July 23 – 27 at California State University, Sacramento, marks the 21st anniversary of this forum that began with a handful of delegates in 1992. Delegates come from all over the state and are selected based on achievements and leadership skills they’ve displayed in their local communities.
“Achievement, drive and leadership are the engines that power success,” said Pam Harris, Director of the state Employment Development Department (EDD).
“And this year’s YLF delegates exemplify this desire to lead by example. Many have overcome hardships and bested adversity, and here they emerge as
winners. We’ll continue to watch with pride as they reshape this world with their passion, pride and principles.”
During the Forum, delegates meet with YLF alumni to talk about personal and professional choices that lead to success. They attend leadership training, watch demonstrations of the latest technology, learn about each other’s disabilities, discuss issues facing the disability community, and obtain advice from
motivational speakers and mentors.
“This leadership forum’s impact on these youths with disabilities lasts more than just the short time they are here in Sacramento,” said Tony Sauer, Director of the Department of Rehabilitation. “The skills and knowledge learned will last throughout their lifetime. Many of the former delegates have become aides to legislators, doctors, disability advocates, lawyers, state executives, business entrepreneurs, and have become top executives running community-based
Paul K. Miller, chair of the California Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, echoed that YLF is an investment in our future. “When
we envisioned this unique leadership program for high school students with disabilities more than twenty years ago, we believed it would work,” said Miller,
who also chairs Friends of Californians with Disabilities, Inc. “By celebrating the 21st anniversary event today, we’re thrilled that it has succeeded beyond our
modest expectations and become a national model youth leadership program. Youth are our future, and encouraging students with disabilities to develop
leadership skills has resulted in an important cohort of emerging leaders with disabilities.”
The annual YLF is coordinated by a partnership of California state agencies, including EDD; the Department of Rehabilitation; the Department of Education;
the California Workforce Investment Board; the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the State Council on Developmental Disabilities; the Department of Developmental Services; the Department of Mental Health; the State Independent Living Council; California Services for Technical Assistance and Training/Napa County Office of Education; California Health Incentives Improvement Project; and the UC Davis Mind Institute. Private donors include the
Wells Fargo Foundation; IBM Corporation; Intel; Lockheed Martin; Sutter Health;Health; Pacific Bell; Molina Health Care; the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers; and Friends of Californians with Disabilities, Inc.