Chelsea and Pelham students selected for Youth Leadership Forum

Published 10:08 am Thursday, May 8, 2014


CHELSEA — Emily Morris of Chelsea and Mekayala Cleveland of Pelham are two of 38 students statewide selected to participate in the 16th annual Alabama Governor’s Youth Leadership Forum June 1-5 at Troy University.

Youth Leadership Forum delegates are selected through a statewide competition that seeks students with disabilities who have leadership potential. The group reflects the state’s demographic makeup in terms of geography, gender, ethnicity, and types of disabilities. Eligible students must be a junior or senior in high school, be between 17 and 21 years of age, and have a disability.

YLF Coordinator Karen Jenkins said the five-day event helps shape high school students with disabilities through sessions that focus on self-esteem, self-advocacy, career exploration, independent living options and leadership building.

“YLF provides an opportunity unlike any other for young people with disabilities,” Jenkins said. “Witnessing the transformation these delegates undergo in a matter of days is such a positive experience. We empower youth to become involved in all aspects of society.”

During the forum, delegates will write a Personal Leadership Plan to assist them in becoming leaders in their communities. The delegates also will spend a day in Montgomery, where they will tour the Capitol, learn about state government and interact with successful adults with disabilities at the Angeline Pinckard Mentor Luncheon.

YLF is a program of the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. Troy University partners with ADRS to house the event, and additional funding for this year’s forum was provided by the Alabama Department of Education, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.