Twenty-five high school students from across the state, including Kaleigh Goode and Rico Lewis, both of Columbus, attended the first Indiana Youth Leadership Forum on July 21 in Indianapolis.
The forum is a grant-funded project supported by the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities, hosted by the Autism Society of Indiana.
Forum participants were part of a five-day leadership program that provides information on a variety of topics, including assistive technology options and community resources.
Students had to be incoming juniors or seniors in high school, between the ages 16 and 21, and have some kind of disability, including learning, visual, mobility, mental health, emotion, developmental, hearing and/or neurological impairments. Students also were identified for their potential leadership skills and that they were willing to further develop as leaders.
“I am hoping the students will go home and feel empowered in their future and in the skills they have learned,” said Erin McAloon, forum coordinator.
Goals of the program were to expand student knowledge about the culture of disability, learn about all types of disabilities, and meet adults who are living successfully with disabilities.
The expectation is that students will return to their communities with the tools and resources necessary to be leaders in their own lives and communities, McAloon said.