• Seeking YO! Volunteer Interested in Media/Communications



    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


    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.



    • 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


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


    • 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.


    STIPEND: $100/per month


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

  • 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.


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • YO! Alumni Profile: Chelsea Boon



    Young white woman wearing glasses and earmuffs, dressed in purple with a multi-colored scarf


    1.Why did you originally get involved with YO?

    I became involved with YO! to gain experience in a field that I will always enjoy, disability rights advocacy.

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

    I have gained experience and friends in an open-minded environment that has helped lead me to my current paid work experience with the state.

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

    Yes, and in fact, I like to think that I am still doing YO! volunteering in an informal way, such as speaking with schools on disability issues or recruiting potential new members. No matter how busy I am with my paid work, I will always make time for the things I am passionate about. A friend told me that once I am a volunteer here, I am always a volunteer here.

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

    Yes, and I look forward to seeing what a friend of my family has to offer YO! once she is at the age when she can begin volunteering.

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

    The best part was the people whom I got to work alongside with. I still stay in touch with many friends I have made along the way, and connect to new and old volunteers whom I may not have even met in person.

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

    I describe YO! as being a program that offers young disabled adults/teens a career-like setting where they can discuss a number of topics on disability advocacy. They can also develop workplace skills in a safe environment, such as making phone calls, tabling events, and professional journaling.

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

    Since completing my time on the YAC, I have put my focus to getting my first state job. I have landed an office position job in the Workers Compensation office at the Sonoma Developmental Center.

  • YO! Alumni Profile: Valerie Booth


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

    I originally got involved with YO! because I heard about how fun it was and how it was a way to connect with other youth with disabilities in the community.

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

    From being a part of YO!, I gained leadership skills and learned how to be autonomous. I learned to make sure timesheets were done on time, attended conference calls when needed and stayed up to date with tasks.

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

    Yes, I would. I really like the way YO! encourages people with disabilities to work hard at the projects they are given in their ILCs and at YO!. The calls would help us understand what we need to work on in our ILCs – not everyone in their ILC works on the same things so it was interesting to share stories this way.

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


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

    The best part of being a YO! Volunteer was definitely being part of a community/team and also having a flexible remote schedule. I think it can be tough if you are not local since you miss out on social interaction and the daily office life. I did get to see the new YO! office last year so it was a great way to bring back memories.

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

    YO! is a great place where you will meet people close to your age who have disabilities. Usually there are opportunities where you can work together at booths for resource fairs and discuss current events such as at conferences or on telephone calls. YO! is about teamwork, but there will be chances for working independently to boost confidence.

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

    Since I have completed my volunteer time with YO!, I have become more used to being autonomous (trying my best to get things done independently). I have become more confident as a person since I am generally shy, and also have become more diligent about deadlines.


  • Disability Pride and Leadership Summit

    Group photo of diverse youth with disabilities and staff at the 2018 YO! Summit at Grizzly Creek Ranch in Portola.

    By Jacquelyn E. and Katie J.

    At Grizzly Creek Ranch (GCR) in Portola, CA we had a statewide summit for Disability Pride and Leadership. The purpose of the summit was to bring together youth with disabilities from across California to start making a campaign for Disability Pride Month in July.

    When we arrived at the camp, we met people who lived throughout the state, from L.A. to Oakland. We received a t-shirt, name tag, backpack, and a workbook that had the program and agenda for the weekend.

    Accessible Outdoor Adventures

    The campgrounds were accessible to everyone with all types of disabilities. There were paved pathways to all of the buildings on the property, and the bathrooms and showers were wheelchair accessible. At the summit, we participated in a variety of activities. The one activity that everyone was excited for was the zip line.

    The staff at GCR recently made the zip line accessible for everyone to use. The zip line was one of several activities we participated in on the ropes course. For the ropes course, we were split into our cabin groups. The first thing that we did was get our helmets to use on the zip line.

    Grizzly Creek Ranch staffers help a youth in wheelchair get ready for the ropes course.
    Grizzly Creek Ranch (GCR) is completely ADA accessible. GCR staffers help a youth in wheelchair get ready for the ropes course.

    Our group then went over to the Matrix, a grid on the ground with blue tiles. We took turns stepping on the tiles one-by-one, trying to figure out the pattern of the Matrix. If someone stepped on the wrong tile, they “fell into the Matrix” and it was someone else’s turn to go. Once we figured out the pattern, we had to work together to make sure everyone got through the Matrix. Eventually, our whole team made it through the maze!

    After we finished up the Matrix, we grabbed our stuff and headed up the hill to the zip line. We wore our helmets and the GCR workers helped us put on a two-part harness. Once we had the harness on, we sat in a purple pouch like seat that was hooked onto the zip line. Only one person was able to do the zip line at a time. When everything was ready, the workers would pull you up to the top of the zip line and give commands. They then would release you, letting you fly through the air! The GCR staff made sure that everyone was able to participate and felt comfortable.

    At the end of the day, we had the choice to have s’mores at the campfire or watch a movie. Even though it was cold outside, almost everyone went to the campfire because we had to wait an hour for the movie to download. Once the movie was ready, some campers chose to go inside to watch it. The movie was called Bottom Dollars. It taught us about sheltered workshops, and that those of us who work in one can legally be paid subminimum wages.

    Each day we would meet in the lodge and discuss how to start the Disability Pride Campaign. Our discussions included what it means to be disabled and what the word intersectional means. In our group we all had a variety of intersections and disabilities.

    “How do you feel about ableism?”

    Youth in a wheelchair speaking into a microphone with a slideshow behind her.
    Allie Cannington explains the difference between the “Social Model” and the “Medical Model” of disability.

    One of the lessons had a diverse panel of people that sat in front of us and answered questions. One of the questions that was asked was “How do you feel about ableism?”  Another question that was asked was “Have you ever been made to feel ashamed because of your disability?” Everyone at the camp answered this question, and we all had our hands raised. Looking around the room and seeing that everyone was raising their hand, we both felt a little relief. We also felt connected, knowing that we were not the only ones with these feelings.

    We then started creating our Disability Pride Campaign. For this activity, we were placed into five randomly picked groups. This allowed us to work with different people on the campaign and have a variety of perspectives. Each group worked together to develop a Disability Pride Month campaign. We then shared our campaign ideas with the whole group.

    This Leadership Summit focused on uniting people with all different types of disabilities to know that we aren’t alone. We need to stand up for ourselves and our community. Having a disability isn’t a bad or negative thing. After being at this Leadership Summit, we both learned a lot about team building. Just because someone might be different in some type of way doesn’t mean that they can’t be a key person in your group.

    We were able to connect to a lot of people at the Summit and are excited to continue our Disability Pride Campaign. As we chanted at the camp, “We’re here! We’re loud! We’re disabled and proud!”

  • Why I Intern

    What is an internship?

    An internship is an official program offered by an employer to potential employees. Interns work, sometimes without pay, either part time or full time at a company for a certain period of time.

    By Kaitlyn (Katy) Brennan

    Photo of Kaitlyn (Katy) Brennan, wearing a black blazer and red shirt, speaking to a room.

    To my friends and family, I am affectionately known as a “workaholic.” Checking my email more than my texts, working hours upon hours a week, and even bringing my computer on winter break, I have definitely earned this title. The difference between my work and many other workaholic’s though, is that my work is advocacy. The reason I work so hard is that there is always more work to be done.
    Becoming ill so young, I never expected to be where I am today. At the time of my diagnosis, I expected to progressively deteriorate and never really live up to my full potential. While what I considered my “full potential” to be has definitely shifted, it feels much more attainable now.
    The summer between my freshman and sophomore year, I published an article to The Mighty. An act of throwing caution to the wind quickly turned into a habit as I have now published over 80 articles. While this writing was originally for me — for my sanity — it quickly turned into an act of resistance and advocacy that I hoped would empower others.
    The next “step” in my advocacy came that same summer when I began to intern for a local political campaign. Making calls, walking doors, and promoting this congressman gave me a new angle to my advocacy: legislation. I became addicted to working for congressmen and politicians that I believe in, and I have not stepped out of the world of politics since.
    The next year was a complete whirlwind for me. I gained two new diagnoses, lost my grandfather, and definitely lost my direction a few times along the way. Yet, my constant was always my advocacy. I continued to write, speak, and make visual content for anyone who would read or listen to my story. Eventually, I ended up working for two organizations, Suffering the Silence and Sayfty, publishing their social media content and promoting their platforms.
    Since then, my passion for advocacy has continued to grow, and so have my internships. Never once has an internship been for the resume or for my personal gain, my goal has always been to help others. I realize that my pain and fatigue will never truly go away, but that does not mean that it has to be a negative force in my life. My chronic illnesses have become a motivator in how I live my life. I write to help others. I intern to help others. I live to help others.
    So, yes, I do accept this title of workaholic, but I do not consider this to be a bad thing. My work will always be for the advancement of society as a whole, and I will always be proud to identify as a writer, a speaker, and an advocate.
    Advocacy takes work and time. Walking doors, writing as much as I can, and furthering my voice will always drain me. I cannot count on my hands how many times I have wanted to give up and just wallow in my illness, but it always come back to my internships. They both drain me and motivate me. Ultimately, they aim to help everyone around me and that will always be the driving factor in why I intern.

    Kaitlyn (Katy) Brennan is a high school student diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and associated conditions. Despite becoming sick so young, she has made it her mission to advocate for others in her position and to spread as much awareness as possible through writing and speaking. You can find her other work on The Mighty, Al Jazeera, The Odyssey, and more.

  •   Child Doesn’t Equal Liar

    YO! Disabled & Proud Blog


                         By: Sarah Judith Bernstein


    When I was six the world began to spin. At first it only happened for short amounts of time, 20 minutes, maybe an hour. I had trouble describing the spinning. It wasn’t quite like I was spinning and it wasn’t quite like the world was spinning. The best explanation I could come up with was that my brain was spinning around inside my head, and as nonsensical as that seems, it wasn’t the strangest part. The strangest part was that it only happened when I was standing. As long as I was laying down or sitting up I was fine, but the minute I stood up everything went wrong.

    My parents took me to the pediatrician. The pediatrician determined that I didn’t have a fever. The pediatrician determined that I didn’t have a rash. The pediatrician determined that I wasn’t throwing up. The pediatrician decided that I was fine. She asked me to stand up and I started crying because of the way the world spun. She told me that I was anticipating the spinning, that I was only crying because I thought there would be discomfort, not because there actually was. She told my mother that I was lying, that if my mother, who had carried me in because of my discomfort, left me sitting in the waiting room I would get up and follow her out and stop pretending something was wrong.

    Here’s what the pediatrician didn’t do. She didn’t consider that I might be telling the truth. If she had done a basic examination, if she had checked my heart rate and blood pressure, she would have noticed that my heart rate while laying down was at least 30 beats per minute slower than it was sitting up or standing. She might not have known what it meant, but she would have known enough to recommend that I see a cardiologist.

    Photo Description: A young person wearing a hat smilling at the camera. In the background are several large trees.

    SJ is a Junior and an English Major at Mount Holyoke College. She also does work for Mount Holyoke’s Accessibility Services department, Co-Chair’s MHC’s Jewish Student Union, and is the Social Chair of the College’s Coalition For Asexual/Aromantic Awareness.     


    Over the years I stopped going to doctors when I was sick. I still saw doctors, but I only went to appointments I was healthy. There was no point in going when I was sick. They exacerbated my pain and discomfort and for what? The doctors couldn’t magically fix me. They didn’t even know what was wrong. All they could do was try new medications that would take weeks to build to an effective dosage, if they worked at all, and write me another round of doctors’ notes for school, and shake their heads at my mother for humoring me by letting me stay home so often. My chronic migraines emerged about two years after the dizziness did, and every doctor was quick to tell me that the vertigo was just a side effect of the migraines, yet somehow, I didn’t think it was. I couldn’t fully explain how I knew, but it just felt different somehow. One thing they had in common though, they both got worse with every year that passed, hours turned into a day and then into multiple days and days turned into a week. By middle school there were times when I would go two whole weeks without attending school or seeing my friends or getting out of bed. Needless to say my grades suffered for it, and both my teachers and the administration accused me of faking. My freshman year of high school I missed so much that only got a singular credit and had to retake most of my classes.

    The summer before my sophomore year of college I was visiting my neurologist two to three times a week. That neurologist, my seventh since first grade, was trying a new, experimental, migraine treatment that involved me coming in so that she could administer a dose so even when I was feeling dizzy and crummy I went in for treatment. Since an examination was standard procedure at the beginning of my appointments a nurse came in to take my heart rate and blood pressure. At first she thought that there was something wrong with the blood pressure cuff. When she repeated the process and found that she got the same results, she asked me if I was feeling okay then ran out of the room. The nurse was no trained specialist, but it didn’t take a trained specialist to realize that something was wrong

    A few minutes later my neurologist came in and informed me that I had P.O.T.S, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, the reason for the debilitating episodic positional vertigo that I had been experiencing since I was six. She sent me to a cardiologist and I got my official diagnosis from him a few months later but the damage had already been done. I had gone undiagnosed for 13 years, 13 years of people doubting that my disability was real, of the school insisting that I was faking it, of being afraid to tell anyone that I was feeling unwell yet again. 13 years in which I failed my freshman year of high school and pushed my body in ways that greatly increased my symptoms, because I didn’t know any better. If my pediatrician had believed me even a little, even enough to do a proper examination and put a blood pressure cuff on my arm, I would have gotten my diagnosis and started trying medications and figuring out how to manage my disability when I was six instead of as a sophomore in college. But that’s not what happened, because the pediatrician didn’t believe me. As difficult as it is for adults to find doctors who believe them and who run the tests that need to be run it’s even harder for children, because it’s so easy to dismiss a child, to say they are just trying to get attention, that they’re exaggerating, that they’re faking it. But adults don’t have a monopoly on the chronic illness market and it’s worth considering that if a child says that something’s wrong, then maybe, just maybe, they are telling the truth.


    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!