Area students chosen for leadership forum

Published 7:39 am Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Two area students have been selected to participate in the 13th annual Alabama Governor’s Youth Leadership Forum June 5 to 9 on the campus of Troy University.

The students, Richard Burkett of Georgiana and Tristan Nichols of Forest Home, are among the 35 expected to participate in this year’s forum.

YLF delegates are chosen through a statewide competition that seeks students with disabilities who have demonstrated leadership potential. The group reflects the state’s demographic makeup in terms of geography, gender, ethnicity, and types of disabilities. To be eligible to attend, students must have a disability, be a junior or senior in high school, and be between 17 to 21 years old.

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The five-day event seeks to equip high school students with disabilities with valuable leadership skills.

“Young people with disabilities have both more opportunities and more challenges than at any other time in our nation’s history,” said Linda Hames, interim YLF coordinator. “YLF’s aim is to empower them to be involved in their communities.”

During the forum, delegates will learn about self-esteem, self-advocacy, career choices, independent living, and assistive technology, according to Hames.

They will write a personal leadership plan to assist them in becoming leaders in their communities.

In addition to their other activities, the group will spend a day in Montgomery, where they will tour the Capitol. While in town, delegates will attend a mentors luncheon, where they will have the opportunity to interact with and get advice from other people with disabilities.

The Alabama Governor’s Youth Leadership Forum is a program of the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, the state agency whose mission is to enable Alabama’s children and adults with disabilities to achieve their maximum potential.