Access Your Voice ~ Connect with Yourself on the Road to Self-Advocacy
On March 11, 2017 the YEAH Council, along with the Parent Information Center and NH Family Voices hosted a conference for youth age 14-26, Access Your Voice ~ Connect with Yourself on the Road to Self-Advocacy.
With over 30 attendees, the full-day conference kicked off with key note speaker Randy Pierce of 2020 Vision Quest. At the age of 22, Randy unexpectedly lost his vision over the course of a short two weeks due to a devastating neurological disease. That didn’t stop him from being the first blind hiker to summit all 48 of the NH 4000-footers and Mount Kilimanjaro in 2015. Conference attendees heard about his experiences of the highs, lows, and problem-solving techniques used to transform adversity into ways of achieving peak potential.
Kathy O’Connell author of Firewalk: Embracing Different Abilities talked about how positive self-esteem helps to create and maintain healthy, fun, fulfilling and loving relationships in life. She stresses “Life is just too short and sweet to not have the one you want and to have a disability get in the way of that.” Kathy lives happily and successfully with cerebral palsy (CP), and while she has had “bumps in the road”, she views her disability as a natural part of who she is and that it is along for the ride of life with her.
Deb LeClair of Full Spectrum Wellness acknowledged how non-stop distractions, multiplying worries and the pressure to balance school, work and home life magnify personal tension and take away from quality of life. She shared simple, practical ways to shift into a more focused and relaxed state of mindfulness.
Other sessions included information of how to develop self-advocacy skills, the decision making that comes with disclosing one’s disability or chronic health care need, and caring for your own medical needs.
The last session of the day offered a number of resource tables with representatives from the YEAH Council, Community College Disability Services, NH Vocational Rehabilitation, transition services from Granite State Independent Living (GSIL) and Gateways Community Services.
Next year’s conference is being held on April 7, 2017. Are you a youth who wants to be involved in the planning? Contact us!