Reaching Out to Youth

One of the hats I get to wear for my day job is the one that says I get to be the Chair of the Youth Subcommittee for the Utah Statewide Independent Living Council. This a fairly new hat that I have been given the opportunity to wear and I am still trying to wrap my head around what I need to do (which is ironic since hats are meant to wrap around our heads : ) to be effective in this role.

Right now the main objective of the Youth Subcommittee is to:
Develop/support a statewide effort to provide young adults with disabilities with greater awareness of the Independent Living philosophy and related community services that can support their transition to adulthood, increased independence and full inclusion in the broader community.

We even have some guiding activities to help us reach our objective. They include the following two activities at this point:
Activity 1: Provide existing groups of young adults with disabilities (such as transition classes in local school districts) with regular opportunities to learn about the history of Independent Living, the philosophy of IL, and the services offered by their local Center for Independent Living that can support their transition to adulthood and independent living.

Activity 2: Support the development of new and/or enhancement of existing youth centered activities in at least three of the Utah CIL’s to provide additional opportunities for young adults with disabilities to connect to their local CIL. Activities will be designed to support the involvement of youth in regular CIL activities and services and will encourage youth to become involved in the planning of additional activities/services that will better meet their collective and individual needs.

I will be the first to agree that the objective and activities can be improved as far as clarity and wording, but it is a start for our group as we work to take the big idea and break it into concrete activities that we can accomplish in a relatively short time with little to no budget.

My questions for all the experts out there, or at least … Read more

Resource Spotlight

When we talk about transition issues for young adults with disabilities we often first think about the transition from school to work or from living at home to living independently. There is however, another important area of transition to think about when working with young adults who are transitioning to adulthood; this is the transition from pediatric care to adult healthcare providers.

Many youth with disabilities and/or complex medical issues have developed strong collaborative ties with pediatric care providers over many years of working together. Unfortunately, as young adults approach adulthood these pediatric providers are not always able to continue to provide this level of care to older patients. Although I know of many pediatricians that have continued to work with certain patients well into their 30’s, because of the strength of the relationship, this is often not practical from a regular practice perspective. This means that young adults need to plan for transitioning to an adult care provider that they can be comfortable with and who can continue to work collaboratively with them to address sometimes complex medical issues that the provider may not have a lot of experience with.

To help young adults, their families and other support personnel such as CIL staff help navigate this healthcare transition, The National Health Care Transition Center has created the Got Transition? website.

In their own words:
“Got Transition? is a national resource for health care professionals, families, youth, and state policy makers focusing on a young adult’s transition from pediatric to adult health care. This site serves as the basis for an information exchange about health care transition, particularly as pertaining to youth with special health care needs.

Transition tools and tips and other resources are available under each of the main categories of Youth, Family, Providers and States. These resources will grow and develop so visit us often.

Why This? Why Now?
Less than half of US youth with special health care needs receive the health care transition supports and services they need, according to the 2005-06 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs.

Health care professionals, Read more

Peer-Mentoring and You

Chances are at some point in your life you had a mentor/friend who took the time to take you by the hand (literally, for some of us) and helped you discover what you were truly capable of.

Mentoring programs, particularly peer-mentoring programs can be a tremendously effective way to help young adults “develop skills, knowledge, confidence and motivation” (Partners for Youth with Disabilities- Best Practices for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities).

While looking through my bookshelf for resources to help with my own peer-mentoring project, I came across a wonderful resource that I picked up a few years ago, it was a hardcopy of the Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) “Best Practices for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities”. This is a very well written and comprehensive guide to developing a peer-mentoring program for youth with disabilities.

Naturally, in today’s world the next thing I did was check out the PYD website to see what else they have put together since they did this guide several years ago. I was very happy to see that the original guide is available electronically along with several additional resources to support your efforts to establish a worthwhile peer-mentoring program at your CIL. Take some time to look through the PYD site, it will be worth it.

Also, don’t forget about the “Building an Effective, Comprehensive CIL Youth Program” training April 10-12 in Houston, Texas. Brush up on your peer-mentoring questions and come learn about:

• How “nothing about us without us” is especially important when involving youth in CIL programs
• What services and programs successful CILs are offering to support youth transition
• How successful CILs design, fund, staff, and operate their youth transition programs
• How to support transition from school to work, post-secondary education, adult health care, and independent living

The target audience for this training is CIL staff involved in youth transition services and supports, and those interested in expanding services in their centers and increasing the capacity of the youth in their communities.

For those of you currently running fantastic peer-mentoring programs with the youth in your CIL, drop … Read more