CHICKASHA, Okla., June 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Delegates from across Oklahoma have descended on Chickasha this week as the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma hosts the annual Youth Leadership Forum for students with disabilities.
The Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council presents YLF at no cost for students chosen to participate. "It is critical that students with disabilities who are transitioning from school to work learn to identify themselves with pride, as individuals and as members of the community," said Ann Trudgeon, DD Council executive director. "YLF offers students with common challenges and experiences the opportunity to learn from each other in a framework of history and an atmosphere of encouragement."
During the week-long event, these specially selected high school juniors and seniors will improve leadership skills, meet with government officials, explore career options and create a personal leadership plan.
YLF delegates, which include students with learning, physical, cognitive and mental health disabilities, are up-and-coming high school juniors and seniors with disabilities chosen through a statewide competition that seeks students who have leadership potential. Students interested in applying for YLF submit an application form, an essay and letters of recommendation. A selection committee reviews the applications and selects the delegates.
The delegates work in small groups to develop their personal leadership plans and identify the resources needed to achieve their goals. Guest speakers address topics such as disability rights laws and technology innovations, and social activities stress the importance of a well-rounded life. Delegates meet Oklahoma's civic and business leaders, and spend a day at the capitol interacting with government officials.
YLF alumni agree to follow through with the goals they established in their personal leadership plans, many of them return to YLF as counselors and volunteers, and they have realized incredible success. "Attending YLF gave me my focus of making a change by becoming a special education teacher," said Brett Cunningham, YLF 2005. Cunningham now serves as Vice Chair of the DD Council.
"Our goal is to assure students with disabilities graduate and have the skills needed to create an action plan for achieving the long-term educational and career goals," Trudgeon said.
For more information about YLF or to request application materials, please visit www.okddc.ok.gov or contact Jenifer Randle, youth advocacy and training coordinator at the DD Council, 405-521-4984 or toll-free, 1-800-836-4910.
About Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council: ODDC promotes quality services and programs, which enable persons with developmental disabilities to fully realize their maximum potential through independence, productivity, integration and inclusion in the communities of their choice.
SOURCE Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council