TROY, Ala. (TROJANVISION) — This year’s Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) is in full swing and is working to help prepare high school students with disabilities for life post-graduation.
The YLF is designed to equip students with disabilities all around the state with the proper tools they need to be self-sufficient. During the one-week camp, delegates also learn what it means to be leaders.
“We teach them leadership skills, self-advocacy,” said Tasha Betts, Transitions Coordinator for Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS). “They form bonds and make friendships. They learn team building skills. They have a lot of fun activities to help them on their road to leadership.”
Wednesday, delegates explored potential future career paths.
According to organizers, the Career Exploration Fair is an opportunity for delegates to see what career options are available to them and to see which ones pique their interest.
“When we bring them to see the different careers and explore different jobs, it just opens up their eyes to what’s available to them in their communities,” Betts explained. “Some stay local, some go off, so they just get a good view into what opportunities are out there for them.”
Delegates also learned about resumes, artificial intelligence, Glassdoor, and Linkedin. To top it off, they played a game designed to give them a better understanding of budgeting.
“The game that we played was the game of Life, which is similar to consequences,” said Anna Taylor, ADRS Business Relations Specialist. “They were able to pick a surprise and that surprise could have been a truck payment or it could have been like a flat tire.”
YLF couldn’t happen with the help of several organizers like Taylor, a Troy alumna who found her passion in life during a family tragedy.
“My nephew had to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and he did pass away, but he actually encouraged me,” Taylor explained. “Working with him made me more comfortable with working with people with disabilities. I decided after that to give my the rest of my career to helping people with disabilities to find jobs and to promote inclusion at the workplace.”
YLF delegates have a busy week. During their stay they attend leadership and independence panels, visit the state capitol, and enjoy games and activities.