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West Virginia Youth Disability Caucus

Update: Kelly Dowdy Simpson, MTSTCIL Community Resource Advocate, served as a staff member at the caucus, and is the mother of one of the youth delegates attending the caucus. Kelly and her son Erick tell us about the first West Virginia Youth Disability Caucus.

The WV Statewide Independent Living Council (WVSILC) will host the first ever Youth Disability Caucus on July 29 through August 1, 2005 at the Marriott Hotel in Charleston, WV. This caucus is designed to:

What You Will Learn

The participants will also learn the legislative process and get hands-on experience in a mock legislative session at the State Capitol.

"The Caucus is a hands-on way to teach youth about power, to have input into policy decisions that affect them and to involve them in the grassroots advocacy efforts in the state and nation," Ann Meadows WVSILC executive director said.

The skills and information Caucus participants gain will be used to set goals and make decisions about their educational options. "This is a great networking opportunity, a way to connect with mentors and community leaders," Meadows explained.

The caucus is open to all West Virginia youth with all disabilities (ages 16-21). The caucus will provide youth an opportunity to:

Arrange to Attend

You will have to apply to attend the Caucus and stipends are available to all the youth that are chosen to be "mock" delegates. All expenses will be covered for the youth chosen to be delegates. The WVSILC will cover the cost of transportation as well as help to coordinate transportation.

Mentoring

Mountain State Centers for Independent Living staff Ceretha Burdiss, Kelly Dowdy Simpson, Patricia Watson and Kevin Maynus have volunteered to play a mentoring role at the caucus. Mentoring happens when one person (usually a more experienced person in some area) takes the time to share their story and experiences (usually with a less experienced person). Mentors will attend an orientation luncheon and participate in caucus activities to help the youth selected as mock delegates. Other responsibilities of a mentor include:

Be a Staff Member

The WVSILC is also looking for "staff" who will play a key role in the Youth Caucus by leading discussion among small groups of youth participants and supporting them for the duration of the caucus. This person will work directly with youth and young adults with disabilities to give input and feedback, answer questions and provide support and guidance during the Youth Caucus.


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