The Florida Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) is an annual career and leadership training program that is both educational and motivational. Sponsored annually by The Able Trust, the YLF brings together rising high school juniors and seniors each summer to spend a long weekend in Tallahassee learning about community and academic resources, disability history, career options and personal leadership. They also take part in social activities which enable them to network, learn from each other and build friendships that will last a lifetime.
The YLF is one of three youth programs of The Able Trust that works to reduce the dropout rate of youth with disabilities and improve their participation in employment related activities. These programs focus on building self-esteem, developing personal leadership skills and preparing young adults with disabilities for life beyond high school.
It’s sometimes easy to underestimate the power of the mind. In many cases, simply believing in yourself and your ability to control your environment is the difference between success and failure.
YLF 2013 delegates Matthew Tansill, Lizzie Downs, Shekina Ramos, and Christopher Tice participate in a mock legislative session in the House Chambers of the Florida Capitol.
The Florida Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) seeks to instill a positive self-core evaluation in each of its student delegates through leadership and social training, introducing them to a myriad of local and state resources that can help them strive for higher levels of achievement not only in high school, but later on in life.
“I was diagnosed with epilepsy at age eight, and then Aspergers at 10,” YLF 2014 applicant Devin Nassar-Reis of Renaissance Learning Academy said. “At first, I was in denial about it. But now I realize I can’t let either of these define who I am as a person.”
The application process for YLF 2014 has begun, in hopes of attracting another group of high school students with disabilities, inspiring them to achieve the highest level of educational and personal independence possible. Students are recommended by their school teachers, guidance counselors, and ESE (Exceptional Student Education) coordinators, and must demonstrate leadership potential through community and school involvement. They also must complete a four-part narrative describing themselves, their aspirations, and why they feel they should be selected.
“I feel this experience will be amazing,” South Sumter High student A-Charia Jackson said. “Earning the chance to see a whole ‘nother world and explore different ideas that will shape my future decisions. This program will help me on my way to success, giving me the extra push to excel and never give up on myself.”