The Impact of KSYLF

Straight from the source... KSYLF alumni and volunteers share about the impact of this program.

Delegates   /   Volunteers and Staff


"The Youth Leadership Forum was fun, but educational at the same time. I met a lot of different people with different backgrounds and experiences, but we all had a common ground. Also, most of my friends that I have today, I met at camp.
The YLF also helped me understand more about my disability and the laws on what we can do to get the rights as people that we need.
I came out of my shell. I talk to more people without knowing who they are.
I would recommend it to other teenagers with disabilities, because the people that run it are nice and have been down the road that most of us young teenagers are going down now. They can help [youth with disabilities] understand like they helped me. I [now] want to help someone else like this camp helped me."
-Carmen, 2001 YLF Graduate


"When I first arrived [at the YLF], I felt like I was homesick. Then, when I got involved in to it, and got to know everyone, it was cool to do and I learned a lot of things. I have learned how to become a better leader and how to stick up for people with disabilities. When it was time to break down and go home, it was hard to say goodbye. I really think that if everyone can attend, then I would do so. It was fun and you learn a lot. So, if you don't attend, then you don't know what you are missing. I want to say thanks for all the help and support from everyone, and may God bless you all."
- Jeffery, 2001 YLF Graduate


"I think the Youth Leadership Forum helped me to understand how I shouldn't feel bad about having a disability. I made lots of friends who didn't care how I looked or [what I] wore. I think it helped me to become a better person and to be better at public speaking and leadership."
-Jennifer H., 2001 YLF Graduate


"It helped me to learn more about my disability and to control it. It also helped me to be a better person. I learned things I never knew before."
-Justin, 2001 YLF Graduate


"I learned to help others. I have my voice to be heard. I learned how to make a stand. I feel more confident when I talk. I felt I was warm and fuzzy when people spoke to me."
- Lisa, 2001 YLF Graduate


"YLF boosted my self-esteem because I'm not as afraid to do some things. I was scared when I got to YLF because I didn't know what was going to happen. I was scared because I didn't know what the people were going to be like."
- Ray, 2001 YLF Graduate


"[I learned] to advocate for myself, as well as others in many things."
-Adam, 2001 YLF Graduate


"[The YLF] helped me with life."
-Josh, 2001 YLF Graduate


"[I've used what I learned] by making goals and believing that you can do anything when you put your mind into it. [I learned] that I can do anything when I put my mind to it and that I'm not the only person that has a disability."
-Kaley, 2001 YLF Graduate 


"I really enjoyed the YLF. It taught me I could do anything. It made me realize I could make friends with anybody. I think anyone who can attend the next one should!"
- Amanda S., 2002 YLF Graduate


"The skills that I have learned have helped me a lot. I can understand other people's point of views better and I talk more to others. I enjoyed YLF so much that one of my teachers is having me give a speech about YLF to the head school board people. Before YLF I wouldn't have given a speech or talked in front of anyone. I am giving the speech this month and am saying all good things about YLF. Hopefully the school board will want to have more kids go."
- Crystal, 2002 YLF Graduate


"YLF gave me the ability to hoop up with other young adults my age and learn about how life is having a disability from all spectrums. It also gave me the feeling that I could make a difference in the world by starting at my school. That is why this year, at my high school, we are going to have a Disability Awareness Week. I would never have thought of this or have had the power to do this with out YLF. The reason I say this is that I met some amazing people at YLF. They helped me by giving me different ideas that I can do, so that other young adults are aware of the disabled community and maybe we can gain support from these other young adults along the way.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about my YLF experience was when I had a problem with how something was being done or a new idea on how to do something, I was able to go and talk to someone about it and they took it into consideration."
- Dena, 2002 YLF Graduate


"At first I was real nervous about going somewhere were I would know no one, but then I got to meet a lot of interesting people. I discovered that there are a lot of people out there that are just like me and go through the same things I do, and they survive. So I began to believe that I could to. They all become like family to me. I was sad to leave the conference because I felt that I could be myself around them. I realized that I could do anything as long as I tried, and that there were people that could help me if I needed it. I am not afraid to speak up for myself and my rights and what I believe in. I would have to say [I enjoyed] meeting everyone- making new friends. [I enjoyed] meeting new people that are just like me, but yet unique in their own way. These people will always have a place in my heart. I will never forget them.
I can now do a lot of things that I wasn't able to do. I gained a lot of new friends and people trust and respect me a lot more. I can get people to see and understand what I am saying or feel without getting mad or angry.
I was told this quote by a teacher at the college that I had summer camp with before the YLF, and it wasn't till the week of YLF that I learned the true meaning of it. "It's not WHAT you are, it's WHO you are!" What that means to me is that yes you are a person with a disability, but that does not define who you are. Who we are is fun, kind, caring, and thoughtful people that can survive in this world just like everyone else."
- Jacqui, 2002 YLF Graduate


"This whole experience was incredible, and I feel very fortunate that I was chosen to be a part of it."
- Rachel, 2002 YLF Graduate


"I have learned a lot and it is because of you and the other YLF staff. It was a lot for me to learn. Before I went there, I thought I knew all there was to know about my disability and I was wrong. You guys taught me more then any school teacher, mother, or relative could have taught me. Thank you everyone that helped. It made the world a better place for me. Thank you!!!!"
- Tammy, 2002 YLF Graduate


"[I enjoyed] a little of everything. [I learned] help is a phone call away."
- John, 2002 YLF Graduate


"For the first time, I felt that it was a really nice, organized program. And I had a blast. These are the things that impacted me the most- all the programs they can offer for people like us. I learned a lot about programs that I didn't know were offered. My favorite memory that I will never forget is that I had the opportunity to go to YLF. And the college we stayed in. I would like to come back again.
Thanks again!"
- Brent, 2003 YLF Graduate


"I felt good about this year's YLF. It had a great impact on me. Some of my favorite memories are: The state capitol, the dance, and the Mentor's Luncheon."
- Lauren, 2003 YLF Graduate


"I'm not even gonna pretend that I'm not crying [now that it's over] because obviously I am. I've been trying [all week] to figure out how to thank you all for this experience. How do you thank someone for changing your life? Well I still don't know how to do that so all I can say is thank you.... THANK YOU!!"
- Jocelyn, 2003 YLF Graduate (from closing ceremony speech)


"I think YLF 2003 was awesome!! I got to meet so many nice people there and make new friends while being there. I also learned lots of new things that I didn't know before I went there. I hope everyone there had as ] much as fun as I did."
- Neva, 2003 YLF Graduate


Volunteers and Staff

"I witnessed the delegates having quite a bit of fun during the week. I believe everyone had significant moments during the week they will carry with them the rest of their lives. Clearly, all were affected.
I was amazed at the cohesiveness that the delegates developed with one another. Even though you were all from different parts of the state and had relatively little in common, the speed with which you began to embrace individuals differences, the respect you showed one another, and the effort you all put forth was a marvel to behold."
-Basil Kessler, original Steering Committee member on the success of YLF 2001


"I think YLF is a great concept and tremendous opportunity for youth with disabilities. What I like best is that it works for such a wide range of youth. I loved seeing what it did for those who participated last year.
Being there on the last day of YLF told me that it made a positive impact on the lives of everyone who was there. You only had to sit in the circle as the candlelight was passed to realize that. I think many of them came away with a newfound sense of self-confidence, pride in their accomplishments and renewed self-determination. I think many delegates realized that they aren't as limited by their disability as they may have thought.
I was truly touched by the spirit of camaraderie among the delegates. I came away from YLF grateful for the experience and grateful for the talents and abilities I have. It was humbling and I gained an even greater respect for people with disabilities."
-Carley Moberg, 2001 Volunteer


"I thought [the YLF] was a great experience, not only for myself as a counselor but for the delegates also. I think they learned a lot about themselves and about other people their own age that have disabilities and that they are not alone and they have the power to do anything that they set their minds to do.
To see the young adults come not knowing what to expect, seeing the eagerness to learn, and, last but not least, the new friendships that they-we made while at the YLF [was the best part].
It was a great and wonderful experience to be part of YLF, and I want to be a part of YLF as long as I live."
-Cecil Walker, Multiple Year Volunteer


"I think [the YLF] was very successful for the first year. All of the delegates appeared to learn and have a good time. I think it gave them a glimpse of what it is like to be accepted, what other delegates have gone through as they grew up, and what life could be like when they graduate. I left feeling exhilarated and excited about the next one."
-Martha Gabehart, original Steering Committee member on the success of YLF 2001


"I feel the 2001 YLF was very successful last year. It took us awhile to get it off the ground, but it was well worth the work we put in to it. I know many delegates and volunteers were changed after it was over. I think the delegates developed many friendships as well as self-esteem. They were able to plan their future and know there are supports available to help them attain their goals. I enjoyed meeting the delegates and other speakers we brought to the forum."
-Tami Schwindt, original Steering Committee member


"It was a very moving experience that I would recommend to any junior or senior. It is a life changing thing, very motivational for all that are involved from the staff, kids, to the videographer.
[YLF 2001] was AMAZING. I think even more so than the steering committee had ever imagined. I think it was the most incredible thing I have ever been involved with and I was struck by the impact it had on the kids. I was shocked at how well and quickly they came together and "let their hair down". The range of jock, cool and nerd kids was still visible, but the kids didn't care because no one had to prove anything to any of the other kids. They all helped those that needed assistance with doors and bags and really bonded with each other. I know that even if these kids do not see each other for a few years when they do get together the tears will again flow...
Through working with the incredible staff I have made new friends and they have become great resource people to me in my job. I have enjoyed speaking with them and getting together with staff and delegates."
-Traci Turner, Nine Year Volunteer


"[The YLF is a] great opportunity for students and volunteers. I think for most of the students it gave them confidence, friendships with someone who struggles like them, and encouragment to face the struggles that each individual has. Some left with good ideas or maybe a starting point to change things in their community.
I enjoyed it and see the benefit in it. I had a great group of students and I enjoyed all of them."
- Valerie Snodgrass, 2001 Volunteer


"I think [YLF 2001] was a great success! I truly believe it benefits youth who have disabilities. It is an opportunity unique to these youth."
- Wendy Pickell, original steering committee member


"YLF has been a powerful tool to so many of the delegates and the neat part is that they take what they need personally from it. There is no right or wrong way to use what you learned and how you grew. Each year is different because of the delegates and what they have to offer to the forum, as well as the staff and what they steering committee has lined up for us to do. The network of new friends and contacts is just amazing. Reconnecting with old YLF friends and getting little email notes from the delegates after a week, and then months, is cool. Hearing how they are doing and using their newfound voice for self is awesome. Everyone is just so uplifting, and it's great to bounce personal info off of them and know that the staff is sincere and cares about what you are doing the rest of the year through is such a great feeling- having more family out there year round is cool. My hat goes off to the steering committee for doing the unbelievable again for the third year. The process is awesome and truly something to behold and I am proud to be a small part of it."
-Traci Turner, Nine Year Volunteer on the success of KSYLF 2003