Initiatives

Amplify NYAMPLIFY-NY: Beginning in 2017, this initiative provides opportunities for young people with disabilities to speak up, build skills and prepare to take on leadership roles through regional youth leadership forums and supported leadership activities. Parents and caregivers also have the opportunity to attend educational sessions to assist them in continuing to help set the stage for young people with disabilities to Lead On. This 5-year grant is funded through the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC). Learn more about AMPLIFY-NY.

Citywide Oversight Committee Youth Advisory Committee (COC YAC): Since 2011, the New York City Regional Youth Partner of YP! has served as a co-chair of the COC and coordinated the YAC. The purpose of the COC is to provide a vehicle for cross-system collaboration between New York City and New York State child serving agencies, Borough Based Councils (BBCs), family members and youth for the purpose of improving the social and emotional well being of children and youth through implementation of the New York State Children’s Plan within New York City’s system of care. The YAC is charged with bringing the perspective of young people who receive cross-systems services to the work of the COC.  The information they provide assists the COC in addressing cross-systems issues, which affect youth and their families in New York City.  The YAC ensures meaningful two-way communication and collaboration between the COC and young people who receive services.

Engage LogoCommissioners’ Committee on Cross-Systems Services for Children and Youth: The Commissioners’ Committee on Cross-Systems Services for Children and Youth is comprised of health, education and human services agencies, and family and youth partners, focusing on achieving better outcomes for children, youth and families by improving access to services and supports; ensuring quality coordinated services and supports from a qualified workforce; and collaborating to eliminate service barriers between systems. The Council provides leadership; coordination; staff support; and facilitates cross-systems communication. The Commissioners developed a message defining the priorities of the committee.

YP! leaders also participate in the Regional Inter-agency Technical Assistance Teams (RITAT). These teams network child-serving agencies and work on solving cross-systems issues.

E3: Engage, Educate, Employ:  From 2014 through July of 2015 YP! worked with the New York State Department of Labor to produce a series of workshops, webinars, videos and supporting self-advocacy trainings on youth employment.  Check out the materials we produced on our YP! Original Resources page.

Free to be logoFree 2 Be is an initiative of YOUTH POWER! created to provide a peer network for LGBTQ+ young adults that is all-inclusive. Whether one identifies as asexual, transgender, intersex, questioning, queer, or any other identity, this is a safe place for resources and support. Learn more about Free to Be. #YPFreetoBe

Alex Frisina

Harnessing Hip Hop aims to engage young people through lessons on creative coping skills, creative methods of connecting with natural supports, and, of course, music. Hip Hop, just like other forms of art, is a powerful tool that when harnessed can help to create positive outcomes. Currently offered as a workshop for large and small groups, this initiative discusses the power of listening to music to assist coping, the freedom of writing for hip hop, the hard work that goes into taking this passion beyond a hobby, and how your writing can be used as both self-expression and a form of Artivism. For more information on this initiative, contact Alex Frisina at AFrisina@YOUTHPOWERNY.org or 631-245-5289. Follow this initiative on social media with  #YPHipHop

Mental Health Waiver Youth Peer Advocate Training: YOUTH POWER! and Cornell University worked together to create a training that will be required of Youth Peer Advocates in mental health home and community-based waiver programs. Click here to log into the online portion of the training.

Navigating Multiple Systems (NMS) Initiative: The NMS Initiative is a statewide, collaborative project led by the Council on Children and Families with initial grant funding from New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council. YP! and Families Together are partners in this initiative. Learn more about this initiative. To visit the Navigator, visit MSNavigator.org.

NY Institute for Self-Advocacy LogoNew York Institute for Self-Advocacy: In partnership with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and the New York Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (DDPC), YP! will be hosting the New York Institute for Self-Advocacy (NYISA) for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities ages 21 and above. Those who graduate from the self-advocacy institute will become part of the Emerging Leaders Network who spread self-determination and self-advocacy across the state. Learn more about NYISA.

New York State Success: From 2012-2016, YP! provided technical assistance and support to upstate counties in the NYS Success System of Care Expansion grant. Technical assistance and support involves building counties’ capacities for youth involvement in decision making and youth-guided practices. Learn more about NYS Success, including the county profiles, success stories, and other resources.

OnTrackNY: is an innovative treatment program for adolescents and young adults who are experiencing their first episode of psychosis. YP! is providing technical assistance to OnTrackNY regarding youth peer advocacy, the role of a youth coordinator and youth-guided practices. Learn more about OnTrackNY.

PLSD – Peer Leader and Support Development: PLSD is a mutual support group for young peer leaders and advocates from across the state. Young leaders will get support from fellow youth advocates and learn from their experiences. The group will also include skill development opportunities. This support should enhance each member’s ability to be an effective peer leader. Click here for more information on PLSD.

Regional Youth Partners Initiative: In 2009, YP! began to work with the New York State Office of Mental Health to develop the next phase of the youth involvement initiative. To advance recommendations in the New York State Children’s Plan, YP! hired one peer leader for each of the five OMH designated regions of the state. Regional Youth Partners (RYPs) help to increase youth voice on all levels of youth services. They also connect and support local youth-led groups and host regional gatherings. They are our field organizers, working to make our movement stronger.

TAY – Transition Age Youth: YP! is engaged in two key New York State TAY initiatives. We are a sponsor and partner in a conference for youth service professionals on transition age youth services. We also participate in the Office of Mental Health’s TAY work-group. Click here to view a list of TAY resources YP! helped to create.

VOYA (Voices of Youth Advisors) LogoVOYA: In 2013 YP! began assisting Rensselaer County in developing a Youth Advisory Council (YAC) to help guide their System of Care. The YAC took on the name Voices of Youth Advisers (VOYA). In 2014, Rensselaer contracted with YP! to coordinate VOYA and their efforts. VOYA is charged with bringing the perspective of young people who receive cross-systems services to the work of the Rensselear County System of Care. The information they provide assists the county in addressing cross-systems issues, which affect youth and their families in Rensselear. VOYA ensures meaningful two-way communication and collaboration between the county and young people who receive services. Click here for more information on VOYA.

Youth Peer Services Advisory Council: In late 2015 YP! launched a cross-systems council to advise the New York State Medicaid Redesign Team on Youth Peer Services. More information coming soon!

Advocacy Tip of the Day

YP! leaders produce daily (weekdays) advocacy tips which are posted on Facebook

These tips are coded with #YPAdvocacyTips

Brianna Gower, Director

Brianna Gower, Director

Pronoun: She/Her
Email: BGower@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 518-598-2467

Brianna is a hardworking young professional with first-hand experience developing self-advocacy skills as a young person with a disability and experience in the mental health system. Dedicated to amplifying youth voice across the state, she works hard to spread messages of hope and resiliency to those around her. She began her time with YOUTH POWER! serving as a mentor for the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program and after graduating in 2014 from Sage College of Albany, she began working as YOUTH POWER!’s Youth Engagement Consultant. During this time she led the E3: Engage, Educate, Employ initiative in partnership with the NYS Department of Labor. As this initiative came to a close, she then began her work with the NYS Success initiative, ensuring our system of care is youth-guided. As her role in YOUTH POWER! grew and developed, she then went on to serve as the Social Marketing and Events Coordinator, working closely with YP! members, partners, and other stakeholders. Leveraging her years of experience growing through different roles in the youth peer profession and gaining critical expertise in mentoring, youth peer advocacy, program/event coordination, social marketing, and providing trainings and technical assistance, she is excited to serve as the Director of YOUTH POWER! in this new era of leadership.

Bianca Logan, Youth Peer Development & Training Manager

Bianca Logan, Youth Peer Development & Training Manager

Pronoun: She/Her
Email: BLogan@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 585-465-8166

Bianca is a passionate young professional who has personal experience in the mental health and special education systems. She has been working professionally in the youth movement since 2012 with 8 years volunteer experience prior. Bianca is passionate about all things youth and determined to make sure youth voice is represented at all levels in her community and beyond. She comes with experience working directly with young people and also supporting young professionals in her community. She serves as a member of the Youth Peer Services Advisory Council working towards the development of the NYS Youth Peer Advocate Credential, training, and the implementation of Youth Peer Advocate workforce in New York State. Bianca has experience serving on both the Families Together in NYS and YOUTH POWER! board of directors. Bianca’s experience with YOUTH POWER! has shown her the power and strength of the peer movement. She respects the movement, its history, and its future. Keeping the integrity of the peer movement is important to Bianca as Youth Peer Services are formalized in NYS. Bianca is excited to be working with the Regional Youth Partners across the state to support communities with their youth involvement and implement Youth Peer Advocates successfully and sustainably. She believes this will enhance the wraparound experience for young people.

Bianca wholeheartedly believes that youth are our future, and they deserve to feel empowered to play a role in shaping the next generation, inclusive of Peer Professionals. Most of all she encourages young people to have HOPE that the future can be a better place!

Elijah Fagan-Solis, Statewide Emerging Leadership Manager

Elijah Fagan-Solis, Statewide Emerging Leadership Manager

Pronoun: He/Him
Email: EFagan@youthpowerny.org

Phone: 518-432-0333 ext. 19
Cell: 518-949-4617
www.facebook.com/YOUTHPOWERNY.ANY

Elijah Fagan-Solis, a God-fearing Capital Region native, is a highly motivated, young professional with firsthand, lived experienced as a person with a disability. At age 14, Elijah was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Failure and labeled disabled. Despite the label placed on him, Elijah was determined not to let a disability control his life or future; through all the trials and tribulations he faced with his health, Elijah graduated with a 4.0 GPA from Hudson Valley Community College, and Magna Cum Laude from the Sage College of Albany. While at HVCC, Elijah was honored by the Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York for winning the David A. Garfinkel Essay Competition and had his essay published in Judicial Notice, as well as participated in a documentary about his involvement with the contest. Elijah has worked with the NYS Assembly, is a member of two national honor societies, and has received awards for involvement in his community, and for his belief in the ability of people to change, grow, and make a contribution to the world. Elijah participates in charity events and fundraisers such as the National Kidney Foundations Kidney Walk and the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital’s Walk in the Park. Elijah also volunteers his time to do community service and is highly active with his church where he serves as a Deacon, the administrative assistant, and heads the youth ministry among other responsibilities.

Alex Carpenter, Western Regional Youth Partner

Alex Carpenter, Western Regional Youth Partner

Pronoun: He/Him
Email: ACarpenter@YOUTHPOWERNY.org
Phone: 585-314-2452

Alex started facing mental health issues at a young age that carried on into young adulthood. Without the right support, his unaddressed mental health led him down a troubled path. In his journey, he overcame addiction and involvement in the criminal justice system. After struggling with services, he found recovery in peer led groups and started informally mentoring others in these groups. Alex received an opportunity to be a youth peer advocate, and soon after got involved with YOUTH POWER!. Alex is the newest Regional Youth Partner and is motivated to help everyone as much as he can. Alex tries his best to live a life of recovery now and is a father to a beautiful little girl. His passions in advocacy lie in the criminal justice, drug addiction, and mental health services fields.

Alexander Frisina, Long Island Regional Youth Partner

Alexander Frisina, Long Island Regional Youth Partner

Pronoun: He/Him
Email: 
AFrisina@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 631-245-5289
www.facebook.com/YOUTHPOWERNY.LongIsland

Alexander Frisina is a hardworking and dedicated young professional that was labeled with Special Education needs at an early age. Adopted at a young age by a family located in Eastern Long Island, Alex is the youngest of four siblings, and the only adopted member of his family. Facing issues of self-identity Alex struggled with depression. Throughout the decision-making process of his treatment, he felt voiceless and was made to believe he had no choices. This feeling pushed Alex to seek alternative methods of expression; which lead him down the road of creative writing. Alex used his writing to not only express himself but also escape from the feeling of being powerless and unheard. Since graduating from King’s College located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Alex has been seeking a position that uses his creative background to help make a difference. Learning about the work YOUTH POWER! has done and the goals they are working towards Alex realized his past experience could be used to help others dealing with similar situations. Pulling from past experiences and gaining knowledge every day Alex hopes to push for change and spread the work of YOUTH POWER!

Amanda Davidson, Youth Outreach & Engagement Coordinator

Amanda Davidson, Youth Outreach & Engagement Coordinator

Pronoun: She/Her
Email: ADavidson@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 518-432-0333 ext. 26
Cell Phone: 518-949-4338

Amanda is a driven, confident young individual who plans on making the world a better place for young people step by step. Her experience in mental health, child welfare, has allowed her to grow a new skill to recognize the ability for change. She knows she wants to empower young people of all ages and help them to also recognize their ability to seek change and actively make their voices heard in society. Amanda works state wide to amplify youth voice in systems that involve suicide prevention, school mental health education, child welfare, kinship/foster care and many others. She has shared her story in front of the whole NYS Board of Education including Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, to influence the new mental health education curriculum law passed in July of 2018, the 2018 Suicide Prevention Conference sharing her own personal experience with suicide and what helped or harmed her during that time, the 2018 System of Care Summit explaining her transition from child serving systems to the adult serving systems, 2019 Families Together in NYS Annual Conference, 2019 School Mental Health Resource & Training Center Regional Summit and MANY other conferences, meetings, councils and committees sharing her story and experiences of a troubled past. She also participates with many councils and committee event planning groups to ensure young people are properly represented in the systems that we celebrate.

With all of these opportunities, she has realized her passion is to support young involved in the child welfare systems with whom live mental health challenges. She is deeply passionate about the mental health education law and ensuring students have the best supports and resources when it comes to learning such an important topic! With her story told throughout different outlets, she hopes youth can find power in sharing their own story because Amanda knows our stories matter!

Ashley Rivera, Youth Wraparound Implementation Coordinator

Ashley Rivera, Youth Wraparound Implementation Coordinator

Pronoun: She/Her
Email: ARivera@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 518-560-9880

Ashley Rivera is a natural born advocate. With years of experience navigating the foster care system, advocating for her siblings and herself became second nature. Throughout her years in foster care, Ashley dealt with anxiety, depression and self-identity. Through self-advocacy and natural supports Ashley was able to find treatment through faith-based interventions. Ashley has been involved with promoting youth advocacy since High School. She worked on Juvenile Justice projects such as, Alternative to Detention programs in NYC, engaging youth to advocate for funding Educational opportunity programs on college campuses. Ashley has a Bachelor’s of Science from SUNY Plattsburgh in Political Science and Latin American Studies. Ashley is currently serving Youth Power as the Youth Wraparound Implementation Coordinator on the NYS Systems of Care grant. Simultaneously, she works as a community support worker providing skill-building to youth facing their own mental health barriers. Ashley is dedicated to empowering youth and encouraging systems change so youth voice is inclusive and at the forefront of change.

Azaria Georger, Youth Peer Services Training & Credentialing Coordinator

Azaria Georger, Youth Peer Services Training & Credentialing Coordinator

Pronoun: She/Her
Email:
AGeorger@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 585-866-9333

Azaria has a history of working with and for youth and young adults. This stems from the care and support she received while growing up in the foster care system. Azaria was in and out of foster care since the age of 13 and has multiple mental health diagnoses. Azaria has personally experienced the power of love, support, and caring from others who helped her find her voice, drive, and have supported her personal successes. Azaria turned her passion into supporting others to find their voices. Prior to starting this position, she has worked directly with youth to support them in finding their voice at home and in school as a Youth Mentor, Youth Ambassador, and in residential care as a Youth Care Professional. Azaria earned her Bachelors in Social Work from SUNY Brockport in 2013 after aging out of foster care at 21 while studying abroad in Vietnam.

Carly DelVecchio, Central Regional Youth Partner

Carly DelVecchio, Central Regional Youth Partner

Pronoun: She/Her
Email:
 CDelVecchio@YOUTHPOWERNY.org
Phone: 315-679-1476
www.facebook.com/YOUTHPOWERNY.Central

Carly DelVecchio’s personal struggles with mental health began in middle school.  This life-altering experience ultimately sparked her passion for supporting others to live abundant lives in spite of their diagnoses.  Carly graduated from Houghton College with her BA in Psychology in December 2016 and soon began working with the Mental Health Advocates of WNY as a Youth Peer Advocate.  In April 2018, she joined the team at YOUTH POWER! of Families Together in New York State as the Western Regional Youth Partner.  One year later, she moved to Syracuse, NY and transitioned into the role of Central Regional Youth Partner. 

In addition to her work with YOUTH POWER!, Carly is currently pursuing her Master’s in Social Work through Rutgers University.  She is married to her best friend and they are expecting a baby girl in September 2019.  In her free time, Carly enjoys reading, going for walks, visiting local coffee shops, and writing about her faith and the day-to-day challenges of living with a mental health diagnosis on her personal blog, Jesus, Coffee, and Prozac.  (Feel free to check it out at www.jesuscoffeeandprozac.com).  To connect with Carly, send her a friend request on Facebook, shoot her a quick email or text, or give her a call!

Imari Wilson, Hudson River Regional Youth Partner

Imari Wilson, Hudson River Regional Youth Partner

Pronoun: He/Him/They/Them
Email: iwilson@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 518-322-2096
www.facebook.com/YOUTHPOWERNY.HudsonRiver

Imari is no stranger to advocating for others. Since a young age they’ve unconsciously looked to make others around feel included and accepted. Growing up having older siblings in the foster care system, juvenile justice system, and having a serious medical illness, Imari felt they had to minimize their needs to make space for others. This created some unhealthy habits. It wasn’t until experiencing a significant loss in their late teens that they began to positively accept and voice their needs, and address the obstacles that challenged him. Imari has now gained confidence and strength by exploring and identifying their mental health needs, as well as, liberating himself through transition. This self-work and lived experience brought them into the mental health field as a Youth Peer Advocate (YPA). Now in a place where he can make space for himself and others, Imari aims to continue to raise visibility to those that need it and see a more inclusive world than the day before.

Zack Kilmer, NYISA Coordinator

Zack Kilmer, NYISA Coordinator

Pronoun: He/Him
Email: ZKilmer@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 518-708-3808
www.facebook.com/zack.kilmer.7

Zack Kilmer is an autistic LGBTQ+ young adult who has had a passion for activism and civics since he was a child. Raised by a single mother and brought up in special education programs, Zack knows the struggles young people face and wants to change the system to better suit their needs. He is excited and honored to be working with YOUTH POWER! to achieve that goal. Before joining YP!, Zack graduated from SUNY Brockport with a bachelor’s degree in English & Political Science. Shortly after, he worked on the New York 19th District 2016 Congressional Election in support of Zephyr Teachout. He then used the skills learned in that race to run his own campaign for Town Council in his hometown of East Greenbush.

Shainek Edmundson, NYC Regional Youth Partner

Shainek Edmundson, NYC Regional Youth Partner

Pronoun: She/Her
Email: SEdmundson@youthpowerny.org
Phone: 518-708-3808

Shainek is a resilient, self motivated young adult who has experience with the foster care system. From an early age she has been an advocate for herself along with young people she came across. She helps to provide hope by being a positive example in her community and striving for excellence each day. She identifies herself as creative as she uses the arts as a form of self expression and therapy. Being passionate about justice and systematic change, Shainek is motivated to help educate individuals about various issues to raise awareness. Recently receiving her Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and becoming the newest Regional Youth Partner, Shainek is excited to leave a long lasting impact on her peers through advocacy and exposure.

Staff of YOUTH POWER!

We pride ourselves on being a peer run network. Families Together in NYS employs youth and young adults with disabilities and/or cross-systems experiences to mentor young leaders and coordinate YP! network activities.

 

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