TROY—Forty high school students with disabilities will get lessons in how state government works and take part in team-building and leadership exercises as a part of the Alabama Governor’s Youth Leadership Forum at Troy University, June 6-10.
Some 40 volunteer staff members made up of TROY students and former YLF student delegates will join 15 health professionals, hearing-impaired interpreters and instructors on the Troy Campus for the event.
The Forum is co-sponsored by Troy University’s Institute for Leadership Development and Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, with support from other agencies including the Alabama Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, the Alabama Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, the, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the Alabama Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and the Alabama Department of Education.
The Forum will include large- and small-group discussions of topics ranging from self-support to the challenges of leadership.
“We focus on teambuilding, relationship skills, and teaching them how to be advocates for themselves and others with disabilities,” said Dr. John Kline, the Institute for Leadership Development’s director and co-chair of the forum. “One of our goals is to show these young people they can achieve things even with a disability. Some of these students have never been away from home before; this is a great opportunity for them to have new experiences.”
Becky Fields of the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services and co-chair of the forum said the event helps participants rise above limitations and realize their full potential.
“This forum is the only one in Alabama, where students acquire leadership skills that let them see there is no limit to their potential academic and vocational achievement,” Fields said.
In addition, Troy University First Lady Janice Hawkins will lead participants in a discussion of proper table etiquette during a luncheon beginning at 11:40 a.m. on Monday, June 7, in room 119 of Jack Hawkins, Jr. Hall.
On June 9, delegates will travel to Montgomery to meet with Legislative leaders at the Alabama State House, tour the State Capitol and meet with Gov. Bob Riley. From there, delegates will attend a Mentors Luncheon at the Retirement Systems of Alabama’s Activity Center. Speaker for the luncheon will be Troy University alumnus Donovan Beitel.
Beitel, who graduated in 2009 with a degree in risk management and insurance, is legally blind and serves as an instructor in the Business Enterprise Program at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind’s Gentry Instructional Facility.