Forum for students with disabilities set for June 5-9 at Troy University

Posted: Friday, 03 June 2011

TROY -- Forty high school students with disabilities will take part in leadership exercises and get lessons in how state government works as a part of the Alabama Governor's Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) at Troy University, June 5-9.

The forum is co-sponsored by the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services and Troy's Institute of Leadership Development with support from agencies including the Alabama Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the Alabama Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and the Alabama Department of Education.

"The forum focuses on developing and building relationship and leadership skills," said Dr. John Kline, director of Troy's Institute of Leadership Development and co-chair of the event. "One of our goals is teaching these young people how to be advocates for themselves and others with disabilities."

Linda Hames, a rehabilitation specialist with the Alabama Department Rehabilitation Services who is serving as interim Youth Leadership Forum coordinator and co-chair of this year's event, said YLF helps participants realize their full potential.

"The Youth Leadership Forum helps these students understand there is no limit to their potential for success both academically and vocationally," she said.

This year's YLF will feature sessions on career exploration and technology available to assist people with disabilities, as well as "Living on My Own," a panel discussion led by successful Alabamians with disabilities.

Students will also tour the state Capitol beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 8, and attend a mentor luncheon at 12:30 p.m. at the Alabama Activity Center in Montgomery featuring keynote speaker Kenneth "Maze" Marshall, a U.S. Army veteran from Montgomery who sustained a spinal cord injury while stationed in Korea. Marshall, a wheelchair athlete, won three gold medals in the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney.

A closing ceremony and graduation will be held Thursday, June 9, beginning at 12:45 p.m. in the Trojan Student Center on the Troy campus.