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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.

  • Show your Disability Pride and get FREE YO! swag!

    Instagram photo of disabled youth of Asian decent smiling, wearing a crown of flowers, eyeglasses, and a pink checkered shirt. Text reads: Disability Pride Photo & Hashtag for Free Swag! Instagram Photo Challenge. How to Enter: 1. Follow YO! on Instagram. 2. Post a photo of you living your best life, thanks to the ADA. Use #YOADA28. 3. Tag 3 friends and challenge them to show their disability pride. YO logo.
    Show your #DisabilityPride photos on *Instagram* and win FREE swag!

    This July, CFILC and all of its programs are celebrating the 28th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by giving away YO! swag– Disability Pride posters, buttons, and tees!

    How to enter:
    1. Follow YO! on Instagram: @yodisabledandproud
    2. Between July 13-26, post a photo of you living your best life, thanks to the ADA. Use #YOADA28.
    3. Tag 3 friends and challenge them to show their disability pride.
    (Extra credit: describe the photo in your caption.)

    YO! Will contact folks showing the most Disability Pride in their photos to send prizes. Please note: we are only able to send prizes to participants within the continental U.S. The deadline to post photos is Thursday, July 26, 2018 11:59 p.m. PST.


    Photo description: A group of seven youth with various types of disabilities/gender/racial and ethnic identities smiling and posing for a photo.

    The Dayle McIntosh Center (DMC) in Anaheim has recently partnered with the City of Anaheim and received a program grant from the Department of Rehabilitation to serve youth.

    DMC is passionate about working with youth and has a firm commitment to ensure the successful continuation of the Independent Living Movement through future generations. DMC is also committed to having youth-driven programming, which has been a crucial key to its success. “Nobody gets youth better than youth!”

    The MY Best (Mentoring Youth By Enhancing Successful Transition) program has recently experienced some “successful transitions” of its own. MY BEST has expanded from two monthly activities to programming on every Saturday.  Saturday programs include:

    • Live Out Loud (LOL) Youth Peer Day, a social/recreation activity on the 1st Saturday
    • An Independent Living Skills (ILS) class for deaf youth on the 2nd Saturday,
    • A Cross-Disability ILS class on the 3rd Saturday
    • A peer group and improvisational theater activity on the 4th Saturday (started in February)

    Collaboration with other entities involved with youth programming has greatly boosted effectiveness of DMC’s youth program. The City of Anaheim, local school districts and transitional programs, Regional Center and the Department of Rehabilitation have all provided referrals and support.

    Anaheim has made it possible for MY BEST to move into donated space that includes kitchen facilities and an outdoor area.  Outreach in the community, especially sharing flyers with Regional Center, has created a huge influx of new youth consumers.

    A Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) was formed in October of 2017 to ensure that programs are truly youth driven. The YAC is composed of five youth with various disabilities who have either been long–time members of the youth program or have shown great insight and leadership potential. The Youth Advisors meet with DMC Staff on a monthly basis to provide constructive feedback and suggestions.

    Through the advice of the YAC, arts and crafts were added to the LOL format, new ideas have been recommended for lesson planning, and a youth advisor and youth outreach coordinator co-facilitate the Youth Peer Support group.

    Advice for other Independent Living Centers seeking to bolster youth involvement:

    • Think outside the box. Look at your community and partners you currently work with to see how the resources and relationships can support your youth program.
    • If your center doesn’t have the space for a youth group, approach a local city to see if you can use their community center or a local church that may let you use their space.
    • Assess your community to see what other agencies you might build partnerships with that might add great valueand support to your programming.
    • Find youth who want to give input. They will give you honest feedback about whether or not things are working. If their voices are heard, they will come back and bring friends!

  • Disney, Disability, and Seeing Someone Like Me

    YO! Disabled & Proud Blog

    By Yolanda Vargas

    Friday, October 13 7 PM PST Youth Organizing Disabled and Proud @yodisabledproud along with co hosts Alice Wong via  @disvisibilty and @DominickEvans  will be hosting a #FilmDis Twitter chat to discuss disability representation in Disney animated films.  we will not be including Disney’s amazing films created with Pixar…. That’s a Twitter chat all its own.

    Hi my name is Yolanda Vargas, I am the Youth Organizer for YO! and I approached Dominick Evans and Alice Wong, who are giants when it comes to addressing disability representation in media, because I love Disney and I don’t think I’m the only disabled person who does. To my surprise they agreed to co-hosts this Twitter chat. The dialogue that I want everyone to be a part of is extremely important to me not only on a professional level but a personal level.

    Being disabled can be lonely and frustrating, because it seems like you’re the only person in the world like you. I’ve had cerebral palsy since birth and have always used some kind of mobility aid to get around. When I was six years old I thought I was supposed to be elderly, because I’d only seen elderly people use wheelchairs and walkers. Then I saw a movie called The Little Mermaid and it blew my mind; not only was she obsessed with legs and trying to fit in she also had a ton of sisters and an overbearing father. So basically six-year-old me with red hair .Secretly though, my favorite part was that she got to fall in love and that in the end the person didn’t care that she had fins instead of legs (Though honestly Prince Eric you couldn’t figure out that she was the mystery girl who saved your life? The dog did!).

    Now that I’m older, I’m not obsessed with “fixing” myself or trying to fit in. I am proud of my disabilities .Thanks in large part to Ariel I realized that regardless of how you get from point A to point B it’s the actions in between that make your life an adventure. If I didn’t have Ariel I don’t know who I would be. Maybe I would listen to authority more, not take chances as much, and take my voice for granted (pun intended); which sounds absolutely horrible! A little mermaid taught me how to be a courageous Disabled Latina Queer Activist who embraces every part of myself, from the top of my head to the tip of my fin.

    Also I absolutely have to give a shout out to the best donkey in the whole animated world! Eeyore taught me that it’s okay to be depressed, to not pretend to be happy; even if all your friends are, and that good friends let you feel your feelings. This jackass taught me that depression is okay before I could even put what I was going through into words.


    So please, come share your thoughts, feelings, and hopes for the future as we talk about why disability representation in Disney films is so important!


    Image Description:

    Orange background with black print that reads:#FilmDis Twitter Chat
    Putting the “Dis” in Disney
    Time: 7pm PST/10pm pst
    Date Friday October 13th 2017
    Participate using the #FilmDis All ages welcomed

    Y.O Disabled And Proud (@Yodisabledproud) is Co-hosting a twitter chat with Alice Wong (@Disvisibility) and Dominick Evans (@dominickevans)