By Melissa Ann Santora
Arizona Youth Leadership Forum (AZYLF) for Students and Transitioning Young Adults Who Have Disabilities was held June 12-17, 2016, at Arizona State University in Phoenix, opening doors for more than 20 new youth to gain perspective, skills and a plan for their future. In addition, they will receive the ongoing support of a personal mentor for the next year and the opportunity to join the thriving AZYLF Alumni Association, which helps youth stay connected to and engaged in the disability movement in Arizona and beyond.
Governed by an Executive Committee of eight, the AZYLF Alumni Association has been active in planning and implementing service projects and social activities, participating on committees and focus groups, attending and presenting at conferences, informing the State Plan for Independent Living, completing internships, and planning and staffing AZYLF 2016. More than half of the staff this year were AZYLF alumni, and three were returning staff.
Anya Carrillo was the first alumna selected for the opportunity and responsibility of serving as a Team Leader at AZYLF. Be assured, this is no small feat. Team leaders facilitate the AZYLF curriculum, which is a comprehensive set of self-discovery exercises designed to assist the youth, referred to as Delegates, in making Personal Leadership Plans that are significant and relevant to their lives.
Despite some initial reservations, Anya embraced the mission to confidently conduct all of the self-discovery efforts for the Yellow Team, one of 5 small-group teams. “I was so nervous and excited when asked to be a Team Leader. I didn’t know if I was even ready, but I knew that if Melissa had faith in me to be able to do such a huge task and to do it well, I would be able to do it,” Carrillo said. “AZYLF and the Alumni Association have helped me to become more independent, and opportunities such as presenting at a Conference have come my way. I am definitely super excited about the future of AZYLF and our Alumni Association,” she added.
Anya Carrillo works part time as a child care provider, performs a day of service each week at Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council, is Secretary of the AZYLF Alumni Association and is hoping to start college next semester. In addition, she was recently hired by Raising Special Kids to serve as a Youth/Young Adult Advisor.