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  • Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Job

    By Harmony Tarrant

    They say school is supposed to prepare you for life, even for a job. But going to school, and going to a job, are different ballparks.

    I got my first job as a cashier at Rice Lovers right out of high school.

    Not Like High School

    At first, I was used to the structure and rules of school. I still thought you had to ask to go to the bathroom. So, I would be waiting for my boss or the manager to walk by, to ask to go to the bathroom. Most of the time, they just said “yes”.

    Male, blue shirt, city background

    Until one day, one of them said, “You’re an adult now, you don’t need permission, just go”.

    That sentence kind of blew my mind, because even though in the rest of the world this was true: I don’t need permission to go to the bathroom in my own house (most of the time), or at Target, but when surrounded by authority figures, in a routine structure, I thought you always needed permission no matter how old you are. However, that is not the case and you don’t need permission to do every little thing at work. In fact, your boss isn’t going to be around you most of the time to even do that.

    Figuring It Out on My Own

    In school, you get a schedule on when your classes would be, where, and a syllabus of what you will be doing in those classes. Everything you have to do is chosen for you down to the letter.

    Which got me completely lost on what I should do first in the job. Should I be counting the receipts right now? Should I be arranging menus? Should I be taking orders? Do I give these people beverages now, or wait for their waiter?

    I knew a handful of the things I should be doing but got lost on the order of when I should do them. And when there was nothing left to do, with no customers, I felt guilty for standing there waiting for something to do. Every minute should be spent working, but I didn’t know what to do except wait for the next phone call or customer.

    This is very similar to school actually, except nobody teaches you, you have to just know it. Usually, at school you are taught information that will be on the test, you study for it, and see what grade you get.

    At work, if you work in a restaurant, you need to memorize the entire menu, and “table numbers” in a week. You just have to take the menu with you, as well as the outline of tables with numbers, to study for it yourself. I was particularly bad at this, because I couldn’t memorize everything in 7 days, and my mind worked differently from paper to tables. On paper I knew where the numbers were for each table, but in 3D I got a lot of things backwards, or just outright wrong, or forgotten altogether.

    And at work, you don’t get a bad grade, you just get fired.

    Unexpected Triggers

    At school, you’re not allowed to use the phones at all. Teachers had to call others; nurses called your parents if something was wrong. Although I did have a cell phone, I prefer texting than calling because I feel like I communicate better at writing than speaking. So, I had no idea that I had phone anxiety. Until my first job.

    Picking up the phone was something I did as a cashier a LOT, to fill in pick up orders most of the time. It also meant I had to know all the meals in a snap. The pressure of talking to a stranger, while trying to remember the menu, and putting in an order on this weird computer while I barely knew how to work a regular one at the time, put me in a lot of anxiety. There were people who would yell at me through the phone, or I would get the flavor of the chicken wrong, just all kinds of things. My main concern a lot of the times was fearing a customer was going to hit me if they got mad, but that never happened. It just made answering the phone a lot harder, and keeping up with conversation without wanting to shut down.

    Being a cashier, you would think I know how to handle money. Only a tiny bit. To this day, I don’t quite know how to count money. “Why would you put yourself down to be a cashier then?” You ask. Because I was told to apply for any jobs available, regardless if I thought I could do them or not. Here is my advice on that: DON’T do that. Apply to jobs you know you can do, or at least learn quickly how to.

    Ironically, I actually didn’t have to do much money exchange being a cashier, my job mostly consisted of answering the phone, filling in pick up orders, counting receipts, and filling beverages. However, the little money exchange I did do, was difficult for me to the point my boss asked me a math question on the spot and scoffed when I couldn’t say the answer right away.

    My Advice

    Learn from my mistakes, boys and girls:

    • Apply for jobs you *know* you can do
    • Go to the bathroom whenever you need to go
    • Do your work routine in whatever way is most productive for you
    • Answer your cell phone more often
    • And be sure to study and memorize things just like in school

    About Harmony

    Harmony is a YO! Volunteer at the Dayle McIntosh Center (DMC) in Anaheim. Harmony shows his passion for disability rights and the youth voice by co-facilitating DMC’s Youth Connect Advocacy group and participates in the Youth Advisory Committee.


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  • Celebrating the Legacy of Ki’tay D. Davidson

    Photo of a black youth pensively looking into the camera, wearing a black shirt and knitted chevron scarf. standing in front of a small body of water with pine trees, houses and the sky as the backdrop. The above quote is written in dark letters in the sky on the right hand side of the photo. Quote included in the caption.
    “I take risks by acting out of love & a framework of intersectionality. I listen, I speak up, I show up, I am vulnerable & I dream. I practice living by the quote: speak truth, even if your voice shakes.”

    Ki’tay D. Davidson’s legacy continues reverberate through the Disability community and all communities he connected with. Ki’tay passed away in 2014. Some five years have passed and we still feel his presence, remember his love lessons, and are deeply honored to share parts of his legacy this Pride month. 

    Ki’tay was the co-creator of the hashtag #DisabilitySolidarity, and called a ‘Champion of Change for embodying the next generation of leadership within the disability community and his commitment to the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act.’

    His partner, Talila “TL” Lewis, called him a ‘Revolutionary Champion of Love’ writing that he was:

    • The voice of affirmation when you weren’t quite sure of your self worth, dignity or beauty.
    • The voice of love & justice within institutions & organizations rife with oppression & violence.
    • The voice of his unique brand of Black Trans Disabled innovation when all others were frozen with fear or frozen in traditions, religion or ritual.
    Series of 3 photos in a vertical row: black youth wearing an pink button-up collar shirt with an pink-purple tie and a dark colored blazer in each photo. One not smiling, one smiling, one laughing with eyes closed. Text in caption.
    “I challenge the extent to which we place the responsibility for advocacy on those designated as leaders or ‘champions.’ Advocacy is not just for charismatic individuals or high profile community organizers. Advocacy is for all of us; advocacy is a way of life. It is a natural response to the injustices and inequality in the world. While you and I may not have sole responsibility for these inequities that does not alter its reality.”
    From ‘Championing Our Communities: An Open Letter’

    Kitay was committed to racial justice, gender justice, disability justice, and trans liberation, among others. He worked tirelessly to create a wold that was more just for everyone. He intentionally centered people and communities who are most marginalized by and in our society. 

    Black youth is smiling with an open mouth and snapping in celebration of a great comment by an audience member while facilitating a Disability History, Culture, and Pride workshop for youth with disabilities during the summer of 2014. Ki'tay is holding a microphone in his left hand and snapping with his right. He is wearing a black shirt, orange pants and a faux leather black hat turned backwards.
    “I want to believe in peace. I want to believe we can unlearn violence & affirm our interdependency. I dream of a community of lovers, who navigate pain, joy, laughter and grief together, collectively & with care; experiencing endless beauty. I think I am dreaming of a modern day heaven, or perhaps I am dreaming of the good we were meant to be.”
    from ‘Why I Quit Philanthropy’

    Learn more about Ki’tay through his writing:

    Black/white photo of a black youth wearing a dark baseball cap and striped shirt. He is holding a pen looking at the camera over his shoulder as he types on his laptop.
    The misrepresentation of our community hurts everyone — not just the vulnerable. Certainly, policies that fail to represent the needs of all or advocacy that ignores intersectionality facilitates exclusion, poverty, and oppression–to name a few. However, it also hurts those with institutional power by re-entrenching the system we are trying to fight against. It hurts our legitimacy and demolishes our ability to fight the bigger cause and the larger issue– the injustice experienced by all people.
    From: Reframing History and Reimagining Our Future

    “The world will remember his name and ever feel his love, light and laughter.”

    From Ki’tay’s Memorial Page

    These photos and quotes, created by Talila “TL” Lewis, have been repurposed from the 2016 #Justice2050 Twitter Storm- Honoring Ki’tay’s legacy through collective dreaming about what our world can look like by by 2050. As with all YO! Disabled & Proud images online, the photos are described in alt text, however more detailed and personal image descriptions can be found at the #Justice2050: Ki’tay Truths Facebook album.


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  • An Artist’s Dreams Becoming A Reality

    Have you ever thought, “how cool it would be if I were a famous performing artist?” — I have!

    Image may contain: 1 person smiling, selfie and closeup.

    At a very young age I was introduced to short films, music, and movie classics. i remember the first action movie I watched the age of five was Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky”. I was intrigued by the boxing and who was the good guy or bad guy in the movie.

    The film “Rocky” had a very powerful message to me at the time. During that time I was five years old. I went to physical therapy and speech. I would dream that I was Rocky, conquering my own journey–not in a boxing ring, of course, but figuratively. My fight to get my legs stronger was not like the Rocky movie; it was my own.

    Music was a huge part of my childhood, too. I grew up listening to Phil Collins and many other famous artists. Listening to music at a very young age helped with my speech and communication.

    Ever since I was little, I had dreamt of being in the entertainment business. A lot of people criticized me saying that I would not be able to because of my disability, but I never let that stop me. I have performed in 35 different productions, counting theatre, films (and including a few short films I made myself!)

    Very recently I performed in a workshop reading at The Lenaea High School Theatre festival of the play, “Marvin’s Room”. I played Hank, who is a person with a mental health disability. He’s not that book smart; he doesn’t do well in school and did a very bad thing to his family’s home.

    I fell in love with the play for this specific role. I had to isolate myself for a while to get into the mind of the character– how Hank would be looking at his choices and what he wants in life.

    Each character I’ve played has taught me that every person has their own story to be told from the tough times and to success.

    5 people, 2 people facing each other, 3people facing the camera

    My dreams have changed a bit since my days of watching “Rocky”. I want to major in communications and continue to study acting after college. My visions for the future are taking big steps: (1) graduate high school, (2) college; (3) continue to follow my goal in entertainment. If you want to be those people you see on the big screen, don’t let people bring you down. Do not limit your options. Keep hustling and your grind to the max!

    Even though it may seem like you’re not getting anywhere taking small jobs or failing in school, just remember success is not given to the ones who are not hungry; success is fed to those who work hard for their dreams.

    Mike will soon be a high school graduate from Sheldon High School in Sacramento. He is currently working on a film project. He has written a movie script called “Ability” showcasing disability awareness regarding youth and students. He is also starring in an independent film called “War” that will began production In June! He is excited for the upcoming projects and can’t wait to get started.


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  • Featured ImageCross-Cultural Disability

    By: Kameron Bryn

    I grew up in the fourth biggest city in Norway, Stavanger, which has a population approximately twice that of Redlands, California. The entire country’s population is around the size of San Bernardino. Norway is associated with democratic socialism, free healthcare, winter sports, oil, and fish. This is where I spent the first decade and a half of my life. “Why would you move here?” is something I hear a lot. In theory, Norway is the better place for someone with my condition: free healthcare, excellent social security, liberal laws, etc. And, while that is all true, it’s only half of the picture.

    When I was 16, I moved to Redwood City, California—warm weather, excellent healthcare, diverse culture and population, friendly people, and a large LGBTQ+ population. The perfect escape from a cold and frigid Norway, and yet, it did little to ease my suffering.

    In May 2014, I started suffering from chronic headaches and fatigue and was diagnosed with anemia. However, being the smart cookie that I am, I decided to not take my iron supplements as they caused even worse headaches and nausea. This led to a complete iron depletion in October. My entire body stopped functioning, I was hot all the time, I couldn’t think, and I barely had enough energy to move. I was a mess. I started on the iron tablets again, and while it helped a lot with the fatigue, I started experiencing aches. First once or twice a day, then several times a day, and then non-stop. My sister recognized it as Fibromyalgia. I was diagnosed in the spring of 2016. It was a long and harrowing journey.

    Black and white photo. Young, Caucasian male standing against a wall

    Fibromyalgia is an old person’s disease. I’m chock-full of those. I got diagnosed with arthritis this summer at 19, and low tear production at nine. I was always too young. I often wondered if there were ways it could’ve been prevented. At my eighth birthday party, I was playing in a play-house and I suddenly I felt as though I couldn’t breathe. I was lying on my back, gasping for air. I had fits of nausea throughout my entire childhood. I got headaches frequently; it felt like tiny men doing construction inside my head. But these were things to ignore. That’s the Norwegian way—to ignore. Even when we went to the family physician, he seemed to have a hard time believing me. When my sister suspected fibromyalgia, it was dismissed. “I don’t want to diagnose you with that”. I was sent to psychiatry, and they confirmed it wasn’t psychosomatic, but he still refused to do more tests on me. There were reports of Norwegian teenagers who were put into induced comas due to paralyzing pain from over-exertion. Before my iron-depletion, I was in the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program , choir, Model United Nations and fencing twice a week. Pain is something to be ignored.

    My (undiagnosed) fibromyalgia made it so I only barely graduated from Middle Years Programme (MYP ), and my mother took me to see specialists. As specialists aren’t covered in free healthcare, it cost a couple hundred dollars for each test they did. The treatments were just as limited as their knowledge. They agreed that even though it’s likely that I have fibromyalgia, the diagnosis wouldn’t help much as the treatment would be the same, either with specialists or be put on a waitlist for one to three years for treatment by public healthcare. Stavanger is one of the best places to have a heart attack. Chronic illness? Not so much. Fall 2015 I started treatment at the Pain Clinic at Stanford Medical Center. They still refused to give me a proper diagnosis, but I was being seen by a psychologist, physical therapist, psychiatrist and acupuncturist. The treatment helped, but school… was a nightmare. I was doing the same IB program at the American public high school I went to, but IB at that school was IB on top of regular school. I left the IB program within the month. I was still very ill, and the concept of doing six hours of homework every night on top of eight hours of school didn’t agree with my fibromyalgia. I asked for accommodations, but the only thing they could grant me was homework extensions and a permanent hall pass.

    That didn’t make much difference when I could barely get out of bed. After three months of brick and mortar, I unofficially dropped out. I transferred to an online school, but there was still a requirement of nine hours of schoolwork per day. No one had told me the American Dream translated to ‘grind until you die’.

    I unofficially dropped out of online school in the spring and then studied hard and tested out of high school in the fall. Just in time to move to Southern California as there was nothing left for me in the Bay Area. My sister was attending the University of Redlands and was my greatest support system at the time, and it was great to be with her again. I spent the next year in limbo, trying to figure out what I could possibly do in my current state in a country that didn’t seem to want me, from a country that didn’t seem to want to help me.

    I have since paved my own path and worked with people who did want me and did want to help me. I think a lot about my two cultures and how they’re ingrained in my DNA and psyche, as much as I try to withdraw from them. I take no pride in them, but I have great interest in them—in how they shaped me, and how they treated me, and people like me. How they helped me and how they hurt me; how my experiences are unique and how they are universal.



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  • California’s Black Disability History

    Compilation of photos of Black Disabled activists (L-R) Johnnie Lacy, Joyce Jackson, Donald Galloway and guide dog, and Bradley Lomax. Red, yellow, and green dots accenting the image. Text: California's Black Disability History
    California Pioneers from left to right: Johnnie Lacy, Joyce Jackson, Donald Galloway, and Bradley Lomax. Original photos by Ken Stein.

    In honor of Black History Month, we at the California Foundation of Independent Living Centers felt that it was only fitting to highlight a few of the Black leaders with disabilities who pioneered the Independent Living Movement.

    Donald Galloway
    You may remember seeing the photo of Donald Galloway from the 1970s. He’s rocking an afro hairstyle; he’s with his guide dog and Ed Roberts (the Father of the Independent Living Movement) .

    Mr. Galloway was a folk singer as a young man, received a master’s degree in social work and, in 1978, became Jamaica’s Peace Corps director.[i]

    In the mid-1970s Mr. Galloway was the head of blind services and the Black caucus at the Center for Independent Living, Berkeley and a member of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) minority caucus.[ii]

    Learn more about Donald Galloway

    Johnnie Lacy
    Johnnie Lacy was a cherished Hayward area community and civil rights advocate and was named Woman of the Year by the California State Senate in 1988.

    After helping found Center for Independent Living – Berkeley, Ms. Lacy was encouraged to take over the helm at the newly created Community Resources for Independent Living (CRIL) in Hayward where was the Director for over a decade.

    Learn more about Johnnie Lacy

    Bradley Lomax
    In the 1970’s Bradley Lomax was an Oakland resident and member of the Black Panther Party (BPP). He also had Multiple Sclerosis and used a wheelchair.[iii]

    Recognizing the need for more disability services and supports in his own community, in 1975, Mr. Lomax approached Ed Roberts (who had helped found the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley in 1972), with a proposal to open a Center for Independent Living (CIL) in East Oakland under Black Panther sponsorship. Less than a year later, with Lomax as one of a two-person staff, the East Oakland CIL opened in a storefront, offering basic peer counseling and attendant referral.

    Learn more about Bradley Lomax

    Joyce Jackson

    Bay Area native Joyce Jackson was a disability rights activist who participated among 150 severely disabled demonstrators and their supporters who occupied the San Francisco regional offices of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), demanding enforcement of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.[iv]

    Ms. Jackson was one of 20 activists sent to Washington, D.C., to meet with Carter administration officials and eventually convinced HEW officials to implement Section 504 – the landmark civil rights legislation prohibiting federally funded agencies, programs, and activities from discriminating against the people with disabilities. 

    Learn more about Joyce Jackson

    For more perspectives on these pioneers in Disability History, visit Ramp Your Voice.


    [i] https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/donald-galloway-advocate-of-rights-of-disabled-dies-at-73/2011/10/31/gIQAl93MdM_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.4ed46cb0001f
    [ii] http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/collections/drilm/collection/items/galloway.html
    [iii] http://leadonnetwork.org/wordpress/2016/02/09/black-disability-history-brad-lomax-black-panther-revolutionary-black-nationalism-and-disability-power/
    [iv] https://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/02/17/remembering-joyce-ardell-jackson


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  • Featured ImageYO Volunteer Opportunity

    Youth Organizing (YO!) Disabled & Proud

    The programs of the Service Center for Independent Life (SCIL), Marin Center for Independent Living (MCIL) and California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC)

    ABOUT THE PROGRAM:

    YO! Disabled & Proud is CFILC’s statewide youth program that is focused on connecting, educating and organizing youth with disabilities ages 16-28 throughout California.  YO! offers youth leadership opportunities, youth social change campaign opportunities, youth specific  trainings, youth activities developed by youth for youth and job readiness skill building through YO! Volunteer Corp.  To learn more visit our website:www.yodisabledproud.org

    OVERVIEW OF THE POSITION:

    Under the direction of the Youth Organizer the YO! Volunteer will engage in youth organizing campaigns, promote the YO! Disabled and Proud program.

    POSITION RESPONSIBILITIES:

    Outreach

    • Assist in organizing of activities related to CFILC’s Youth Organizing! Disabled & Proud program.
    • Assist in organizing events that are youth led and youth driven, such as summits, community forums, trainings and leadership events.
    • Assist in collecting youth input for projects and campaigns.

    Marketing & Public Relations

    • Assist in developing website materials and social media content.
    • Bolster social network presence for youth organizing activities within your local community.
    • Assist in maintaining the local social network for youth.
    • Assist in other marketing and public relations tasks such as:
      •  Social Media Outreach

    Administrative

    • Assist in answering the YO! 411 Hotline.
    • Other emerging volunteer assignments as needed. 

    POSITION QUALIFICATIONS:

    • Youth with a disability between the ages of 16 -28.
    • Ability to communicate with other youth and adults with disabilities.
    • Ability to maintain confidentiality. 
    • Ability to ask for assistance and support when needed. 
    • Ability to research, plan and provide information to youth about local resources and events.
    • Ability to operate in a computer-based office environment.
    • Ability to commitment 16 hours minimum per month for one year.

    Compensation

    STIPEND: $100/per month

    HOW TO APPLY:

    Interested applicants should apply online at: http://www.yodisabledproud.org/volunteer/become-volunteer.php


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  • Featured ImageMy Technology Wake-Up Call

    by Jose Alan Cruz

    Series of 3 photos in a filmstrip: Photo of a young Latino man typing, using a black Braille device. Text: My Technology Wake-Up Call. Alan Cruz shares his experience using Braille devices.

    I may have started using assistive technology (AT) in junior high, but my  ‘relationship’ with technology did not start until I got to my first year of college. Throughout my junior high and high school years, I used my BrailleNote to do almost all my homework.  A BrailleNote is device that is similar to an iPad in size but thicker. It has 13 buttons and it kind of works like a laptop because it has internet and email.

    The only subject I didn’t use my BrailleNote to do my homework was math. I used to do my math work on a Brailler. A Brailler is a huge machine that has ten keys and once you put a piece of paper in you could start writing Braille. For those that have seen or heard of a Brailler, will know what a pain those machines are. I was never taught or told how to do math on the BrailleNote. I didn’t even know how to use a computer.

    Photo of 2 Braille Display Note-taker devices, one gray, one teal.
    Find Braille Display Note-taker devices like these one the Ability Tools AT Exchange, free of charge to borrow!

    During my first year of college, I did not know how I was going to do my homework because the college didn’t have any Braillers. I needed to figure out a way to do my math work, so I began to research for ways that blind people can do math without using a Brailler.  After a couple of days of searching, I found helpful information on how to do math on the BrailleNote.

    I took that situation as a wake up call and I started to search for all the technology available for me. I also started taking classes to learn more about computers and all the different screen readers. All my work paid off because I was able to successfully pass my math class. Since that event in my life, I have gotten involved with technology and I try to stay on top of it.

    I enjoy connecting youth to technology because I don’t want them to go through the same struggles as I did. I want them to know as much as possible about technology so they can be prepared and successful when they go to college.

    In addition, I provide my students and consumers with as many resources as possible. It is very important to me because I want them to be successful in school and work. I feel that their future depends on what I teach them and also on the resources that I connect them to. Technology is not going away, so I recommend that youth and adults learn as much as possible. It does not hurt any one to know about computers, cell phones, and other software. It would definitely look wonderful in those resumes.

    ———————————————–

    Check out talking prescription dispensers and more reader devices (available for free to borrow!) on the AT Exchange.

    Jose (Alan) Cruz lives in Southern California and is transitioning from being a Youth Organizing (YO!) Disabled and Proud volunteer to working at the Dayle McIntosh Center (DMC) in Anaheim. He has been blind since the age of four. You can see Alan working (and having fun!) with the DMC youth group via Facebook and Instagram.


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  • Featured ImageSeeking YO! Volunteer Interested in Media/Communications

     

    ABOUT THE PROGRAM:

    YO! Disabled & Proud is a statewide youth program managed by the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers that is focused on connecting, educating and organizing youth with disabilities ages 16-28 throughout California.  We achieve this through the development of statewide and regional youth advocacy/transition summits, volunteerism, youth leadership development, collective action, mentorship and communication that prioritizes positive disability identity.  To learn more visit our website: www.yodisabledproud.org

    OVERVIEW OF THE POSTION:

    Under the direction of the Communications and Marketing Manager and Youth Organizer the YO! Volunteer will engage in youth organizing campaigns, promote the YO! Disabled and Proud program, and other CFILC promotional activities. Volunteers for this opportunity must be able to travel to Downtown Sacramento.

    POSITION RESPONSIBILITIES:

    Outreach

    • Assist in organizing of activities related to CFILC’s Youth Organizing! Disabled & Proud program.
    • Assist in organizing events that are youth led and youth driven, such as summits, community forums, trainings and leadership events.
    • Assist in collecting youth input for projects and campaigns.

    Marketing & Public Relations

    • Assist in developing website materials and social media content.
    • Bolster social network presence for youth organizing activities within your local community.
    • Assist in maintaining the local social network for youth.
    • Assist in other marketing and public relations tasks such as:
      • Researching media outlets
      • Compiling social media analytics
      • Preparing notes for media interviews

    Administrative

    • Assist in answering the YO! 411 Hotline.
    • Other emerging volunteer assignments as needed.

    POSITION QUALIFICATIONS:

    • Youth with a disability between the ages of 16 -28.
    • Ability to communicate with other youth and adults with disabilities.
    • Ability to maintain confidentiality.
    • Ability to ask for assistance and support when needed.
    • Ability to research, plan and provide information to youth about local resources and events.
    • Ability to operate in a computer-based office environment.
    • Ability to commitment 16 hours minimum per month for one year.

    Compensation

    STIPEND: $100/per month

    HOW TO APPLY:

    Interested applicants should apply online at: http://www.yodisabledproud.org/volunteer/become-volunteer.php


    Do YOU wanna write for YO! Blog? [Click Here] to pick a topic and let us know!



  • Anxiety & Doctor Appointments

    By Kirsten V. B.

     

    Doctor appointments, blood tests, needles, MRI scans,.. If you have a chronic illness like me, you know the drill. Does your heart start pounding from the moment you enter the waiting room? Do you have sweaty palms? Do you try to minimize your symptoms to your doctor because you are afraid of their judgement? Do you freeze up when they question your health issues? Do you think of all the things you should have said on the way home? Does this sound familiar? It is all too familiar to me!

    You could say I have a lot of experience when it comes to doctor appointments. I have had chronic health issues ever since I was nine years old. It took me ten years and a good amount of doctors before I finally received my diagnosis.

    I still feel anxious every time I have to see a doctor for new symptoms. And let’s face it, no one ever came home saying they had a blast at the doctors. There is no “cure” for anxiety, but I thought I’d share my tips and tricks to make it more manageable with you.

    1) Prepare

    I think this one seems pretty obvious. However, I know that I always manage to forget to say at least one thing during an appointment. Whether it is asking for a prescription or explaining a new symptom I have been experiencing, something always slips my mind. When there is a lot to remember, make a list of things you need to talk about. At the end of the day, doctor appointments cost us money and time so it’s better to prevent ourselves from having to make another appointment. The last time I saw my General Practitioner (GP), I wanted to hear her opinion on a word I could not pronounce. Instead of worrying if I could say it the right way, I just wrote it down and showed it to her.

    2) Look For Support

    I’m lucky my mom has always come with me to doctor appointments. It’s a comforting feeling to know you don’t have to do this by yourself. I know this is not a possibility for everyone, but try to tell someone that you’re going. Explain what’s wrong to them and what answers you hope to get. It can be as simple as texting a friend. Sharing your experience with someone makes it less scary. I personally struggle with chronic fatigue and sometimes when I’m really unwell, it’s hard to explain everything properly and react when I don’t agree with something that the doctor is saying. When this happens, my mom will notice right away and stand up for me when I can’t.

    3) Reward

    Whenever I have to do something that scares me or is hard, I reward myself afterwards for my courage. When I was little and went to the hospital for tests, my mom and I stopped at McDonalds for a shake or ended the day on a good note by going shopping. Now that I have my diagnoses, I thankfully don’t have to go to as many appointments as back then, but I always like to have something to look forward to. Save that new episode of your favorite Netflix show until you get home after the appointment or take a long bubble bath.

    I hope this helped you in some way and that you’re doing okay.

    Lots of love,

    Kirsten xxx

    A young white woman in a white shirt smelling a flower that is hanging above her.

     

    Kirsten searched for ten years for a diagnosis for her rare symptoms. In November 2015 she was, finally, diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome/M.E. In October 2017 she started her own business, Graphic Organic. She’s a strong believer in fulfilling your dreams without pushing your limits. “Taking a different path doesn’t mean you’re lost.”

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Check out more articles at https://www.graphic-organic.com/blog

    By clicking on links to other websites you understand that the thoughts and opinions expressed of most websites are not that of CFILC or any of its partner programs.

     


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  • YO! Alumni Profile: Mattie Hogan

    YO! Alumni Questions

    1. Why did you originally get involved with YO!?

    I originally got involved with YO! to work with the disability community. It had been several years since I had attended the California Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities and I wanted to work with that part of my community again.

    1. What did you gain from being a part of YO!?

    I gained a lot from being part of YO! I gained a sense of leadership and the impact one person has or can have on a community. I learned about different types of accommodations and how important laws such as the ADA are to our community. I also learned the impact that we can have on younger generations by sharing our stories and the disability culture.

    1. Would you do it again if you could? Why?

    I would do YO! again if I could. It was a great overall experience and I enjoyed the projects I worked on, which included community outreach and working on the Digital Access Project (DAP). For DAP, I worked to help close the disability digital divide by offering low-cost internet and affordable refurbished computers to families who may not have been able to afford it otherwise.

    1. Would you refer or recommend a youth to be a part of YO!?

    I would and I have recommended other youth to be a part of YO!.

    1. What was the best part of being a YO! Volunteer or a YO! YAC member?

    The best part of being a YO! Volunteer was being able to meet and work with other individuals with different disabilities than myself and to explore how to improve our world.

    1. How would you describe YO! To a friend?

    YO! is a great way to get job experience while learning how you can have a positive impact on many different people and communities, and it is fun.

    1. What have you accomplished since you completed your YO! Volunteer time or YO! YAC membership?

    Since completing my time with YO!, I finished my Associates degrees from Sacramento City College and have transferred to Sacramento State where I’m scheduled to graduate with my bacheleors in Social Work in May of 2019. I am currently on the Dean’s List. I’m an active sister of the Sacramento State sorority Chi Delta, where I currently am a co-chair for community service. I also have joined the National Social Work Association and have kept volunteering; currently I volunteer with Sacramento Children’s Home where I work with children under the age of 6.


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