As a youth advocate, professional development is necessary to build a successful career path. Unfortunately, valuable professional development resources can be expensive. But, with a little digging or the right approach, you can find resources to help you pay for professional development opportunities such as the University of YOUTH POWER!.
YP! will have different scholarships available that you may qualify for. Please refer to the main UYP page for more information.
The Patricio “Pat” Figueroa Jr. Sponsorship
The New York State Independent Living Council, Inc. (NYSILC) supports young leaders by providing The Patricio “Pat” Figueroa, Jr. Sponsorship for young adults with disabilities to attend and participate in independent living related conferences and/or national disability and leadership trainings during each year of the State Plan. It is expected that sponsorships of up to $1000 each will be awarded to young adults with disabilities based on cost and need. Recipients will be asked to provide documentation via a NYSILC reimbursement form and complete a follow up questionnaire to summarize their experience.
Click here to learn more.
Young people in waiver, vocational and other programs can ask to use their service dollars to attend UYP. Service dollars must be used to help a young person achieve the goals in their service plan.
Approaching Supervisors/Group Sponsorships
UYP is the premiere youth peer leadership conference that provides Youth Peer Advocates and change agents the opportunity to build skills and expand their professional network. We encourage young leaders interested in attending to speak with their supervisors to determine what funding may be available for employee professional development to be put towards UYP.
YOUTH POWER! also coordinates with organizations interested in sending multiple individuals or groups to attend UYP. For more information, please contact us at email@example.com.
Tips for Travelers
To book travel:
- By train: amtrak.com and follow the prompts. Remember to print receipts and boarding documents.
- By plane: expedia.com and follow the prompts. Remember to print receipts and boarding documents.
Make your travel arrangements as soon as possible. If you are traveling by:
- Car: Drive to the College of Saint Rose, Check in at Centennial Hall 930 Madison Ave, Albany, NY 12203
- Plane: Fly to Albany International Airport (ALB) (Will need to take cab to event location)
- Train: Rensselaer, NY – Albany (ALB) 525 East Street Rensselaer, NY 12144 (Will need to take cab to event location)
Local Taxi Companies
- Advantage: (518) 433-0100 (Accessible Transportation)-these taxis are also parked right outside of the Amtrak Train Station
- Capital Land Taxi: (518) 452-8888
- City Cab: (518) 465-5555
- Duffy’s Taxi: (518) 783-8294
- Yellow Cab: (518) 434-2222
- CDTA STAR (Paratransit): (518) 482-8822
Depending on where you are coming from and your history with YOUTH POWER!, we may be able to coordinate travel if staff, board or special events members are coming from your region. You should not count on this option, though.
Items to Pack
- Make sure your cell phone is on and charged and that you pack your charger
- Laptop, paper, tablet if you have one
- If you are being reimbursed by your organization or through a sponsorship, make sure you save all of your receipts (tolls, etc.) and track your mileage. You will need this to submit a reimbursement form.
- State issued ID
- Money for tolls and food
Find out more about the College of Saint Rose and use their interactive map by visiting this link. https://www.strose.edu/about/campus-map-directions/
UYP Student Life
During the event, we will be taking lots of pictures and using all our social media platforms using #UYP18. If you are able, don’t forget to join in on the fun by posting, tweeting and commenting. If you do not wish to have your picture taken, please let us know ahead of time, preferably the first day when you are checking in.
- Each floor has its own laundry machine and will be available all throughout the event
- Each floor also has its own lounge, students can go there during their down time or if they need to work on something. These rooms have a white board, television, and comfortable seating.
- The main lounge for after dinner activates will be on the 3rd floor of Centennial Hall. All UYP! Students have rooms on this floor.
Advice for Students:
- Be you! Everyone else is taken.
- Manage your time wisely. Don’t leave things for the last minute.
- Walk around and introduce yourself. It’s not weird, everyone is looking for friends! Reach out and network!
- Take in every moment, you never know which one could be defining.
- You WILL make friends. So don’t worry, be yourself.
- Join a regional team or working group. It is a great way to make friends, gain confidence and stay connected while changing the system after UYP! ends.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things. You never know how much fun you could have or who you can meet.
- Take advantage of every opportunity because you never know where it may lead.
Ways to Get Involved:
- Smile at everyone you pass on campus.
- At the beginning of UYP!, hang out in a common area. You will begin to meet people and make friends.
- Keep your eyes peeled for advertised events and other ways to get involved with YP!.
- Go to the Student Fair!
- Start a conversation with the person sitting next to you in class.
- Try to make use of the services at the Student Fair.
- Leave your door open while you are in your room.
- Get to know your Resident Assistant and use them as a resource.
- Ask questions, go to club interest meetings
Being in a new area is always an adjustment, we’re especially careful with our safety when traveling someplace new or staying overnight. As reminders, below are listed some safety tips for everyone. Most of them seem obvious or “just make sense” but a tip sheet is always helpful.
Personal Items and Money Safety
- Be aware of pickpocket situations — crowded areas such as train stations, elevators, etc.
- Carry your wallets in your front pants pocket or;
- Use bags, pocketbooks etc. that zipper well; keep pocketbooks on your lap when in restaurants, etc. Avoid putting your purse on the back of your chair or under the table. Carry your bag close to your body, tucked in the bend of your elbow. Avoid bags that clasp or snap shut.
- Do not leave your purse or personal bag unattended in public areas.
- The best time to use ATM’s is during daylight hours. Use bank affiliated ATM’s whenever possible instead of ATM’s in bodega’s or outside.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and avoid counting or displaying money in public areas.
- Minimize the number of credit cards you carry.
- Carry money for emergencies such as cab fare or quarters for phone calls.
- Always carry a separate stash of cash so that if you do lose your purse/wallet you will have enough money to get home.
Walking On Campus Safety
- Students need to be aware of their surroundings and walk with a positive bearing. If you use an electronic device such as an iPhone, iPod or MP3 Player to listen to music, keep the volume to a reasonable level so that you can hear what is going on around you.
- On the street — travel in well-lit and populated areas. Avoid “short cuts.” If you must travel alone late at night, if you can, call someone at your destination to let him/her know you are coming and how long it will take you to arrive.
- If a car approaches you and asks for directions, speak with the occupants at a safe distance from the car.
- If you think that you are being followed, cross the street. If that person follows you again, re-cross the street. If you are still being followed, look for an open store etc. Begin to run and call out “FIRE!!”, or call out to someone on the street as if you know them.
- Be aware! Recognize your vulnerability.
- Report all suspicious persons, vehicles and activities to the Campus Safety Department immediately, by using any campus blue light phone or by dialing 8888 from any campus phone.
- If you see someone being victimized, get involved and notify the Campus Safety Department.
- Remember the location of emergency phones in academic buildings. Also, phones have been placed in various locations on campus. Inside building phones are silver in color. Outside phones are blue in color with “Campus Safety ” marked on the side. Blue light phones will display a blue light at the top.
- Avoid the athletic fields and tennis courts after dark.
- Do not accept rides from casual acquaintances.
- When walking to your residence, have your keys ready in hand.
- If threatened by an approaching vehicle, run in the opposite direction. The vehicle will have to turn around in order to pursue you.
- When getting out of a car, take a look around to make sure that you are not being followed.
- If you find yourself confronted by an assailant you must remember that while screaming and struggling may in some instances frighten off the assailant, in other instances you may further antagonize the assailant and bring forth a more violent reaction. Above all you must keep your head and assess the situation before choosing your course of action. Whether or not the assailant is armed or has made threats against your life should be a determining factor in your decision. The key word in this type of situation is survival.
- If, while waiting for an elevator, you find yourself alone with a stranger, let him take the elevator and wait for its return.
- If you are on an elevator with someone who makes you feel uneasy, get off at the next floor.
- Always stand near the control panel, where you have access to the alarm and floor buttons.
- Emergency phones are installed in all passenger elevators. When you push the button, the phone will automatically dial the Campus Safety department.
On Resident Student Safety
- Keep your doors locked.
- If you lose the keys to your residence, have the lock(s) changed. On campus residents should notify Residential Life immediately.
- Do not leave your keys unattended in public areas.
- Require callers to identify themselves before opening your door. Campus and non-campus residents should require official identification from all repair or service personnel.
- Do not let strangers in to use your telephone. Direct them to a public telephone.
- Do not to block open doors to dormitories or other buildings or use of fire exit doors, it is in violation of fire code.
- Do not allow strangers to follow you into your residence hall.
- Have a safety buddy, possibly your roommate in case you need immediate assistance from someone other than staff/board.
- If you’re leaving the campus, be sure to tell staff/board who you are, where you are going, when you’ll be back, if you are going with anyone.
- If you are feeling uncomfortable, anxious or anything negative at a public session allow yourself some private time.
- Don’t take drinks or anything else from strangers, even food.
- Don’t ride with drunk or drugged drivers.
- Don’t offer rides to people you don’t know.
- Trust your instincts! if a situation makes you feel uncomfortable, get away as quickly as possible. Make casual eye contact with the person making you feel uncomfortable just to let him/her know you are aware of their presence. If you feel unsafe, seek safety and call for help.
Every year our Leaders’ Dinner provides an opportunity for young people and state leaders to speak candidly about real life issues that youth face while in state systems. It is intimidating for young people to speak frankly with government leaders and this dinner gives youth the chance to communicate in a relaxed setting. We create an atmosphere of sharing and partnership that is comfortable for both youth and adults.
Coming Soon: Invited State Agencies.
Business attire, by definition, means a conventional form of attire appropriate for nearly all formal settings that do not require a white or black tie. If you do not have a nice outfit to wear, bring your best pair of pants and we will provide you with a YOUTH POWER! shirt.
Our Goal is to have a unified approach to advocacy at the leaders’ dinner. You are able to select your first and second choices for agencies you would like to sit with at the Leaders’ Dinner by completing a selection form.
Tips and Tricks for Young Professionals
Networking Tips for YP! Leaders:
- Be comfortable with yourself and your appearance. Dress respectfully.
- Make sure you have your index card with your top concerns so you can refer to them as needed.
- Introduce yourself and where you’re from clearly and with confidence.
- Ask the other person their name and where they are from, unless they are already telling you. Try to remember who they are and where they work.
- Speak confidently, clearly and at a moderate volume. Don’t mumble.
- Tell the person about yourself and what your issues/concerns are. You can also talk about why you became interested in advocacy and what positive changes you hope to make.
- Stay focused on your points. If the conversation is straying from the topic and you feel you haven’t made your point yet, try to bring the conversation back to your point.
- Ask questions if you need information about the work the other person may do or if you need them to clarify something they said.
- When you are mingling with several groups of people, try to go from one group to another slowly and listen to the conversation before you join. Wait for a pause in the conversation and then enter into it.
- Listen- Give the other person the opportunity to finish their thought as well as allow them time to breathe. Don’t jump in to respond unless you are sure the other person has finished speaking. If you are not sure, wait for a pause and ask them if it’s ok to say something.
- Try to engage others at the table in the conversation if you feel you are saying something that you want to share with others.
- Keep your body language positive- use your body to show that you are listening by sitting up, face the person who is speaking and nod at certain times to let them know you heard them.
- Above all be yourself, know your issues, and be persistent.
Brianna Gower, Director
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 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, 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 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 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
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 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 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’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 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 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 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.