The NJCDD’s Youth Training Program is broken down into eight, two-hour training sessions, which seek to teach young people with developmental disabilities a wide variety of skills and information that they can take with them out into the world of self-advocacy. Each year, participants within the group also have the option to bring suggestions for specialized training in an area that is important to their group or their community.

To find out how you can get involved, contact Program Coordinator Frank Latham.

Session 1:Tips for Leadership and Team Work

This training introduces participants to different leadership styles, and gives them the opportunity to find out which style works best from them and the kind of advocacy work they’d like to do. Later the class uses role-playing exercises to show the difference between advocating as an individual vs. advocating as part of a group.

Session 2: Public Speaking

In this session, participants review those qualities that make a good public speaker, and learn how put together a presentation from start to finish – from researching a topic on through to making a strong closing remark. Participants will hone these public speaking skills throughout the rest of the training program.

Session 3: How Government Works

In Session Three, participants will learn how each branch of the government works, from the federal level down through to the people in charge of their communities. They will find out the role that government plays in our everyday lives, and the responsibilities that our elected officials have to our communities. Our youth leaders will then learn how to take that knowledge and apply it to becoming a more effective advocate.

Session 4: You Can Vote

Session Four is devoted to the election process, covering everything from the requirements a person has to meet to be able to run for public office, to how we choose who to vote for, and the requirements we all have to meet to be eligible to vote. We also discuss voting rights and the responsibilities that come with voting.

Session 5: Person First Language

Advocates are often seen as a disability before they are seen as a person. This session stresses the importance of “person first” language, outlining appropriate ways to address individuals with disabilities (As a ‘person with a disability’ – not a ‘disabled person’). The session also teaches ways to share this knowledge with others, ensuring that they understand the importance of referring to persons with disabilities in a way that is both respectful and empowering.

Session 6: What Is Self Advocacy and Self Determination?

What makes a good self advocate? Session Six takes a look at the personal attributes that are found in successful advocates, profiling several experienced self advocates who are doing great things in a variety of fields. Participants will study the good habits and organization skills used by these advocates and learn how to apply them into their own lives.

Session 7: Disability Culture

Session Seven looks at the progress that advocates have made on the behalf of the developmental disabilities community, from the beginnings of the disability rights movement to the major concerns of today’s advocates. This session looks to our group of youth leaders and challenges them to think about how they want to take the movement further in the future.

Session 8: Developing a Student Profile

In this last training session, participants will have the opportunity to use some of the things they have learned over the course of the program to develop a personal profile, which they can carry with them out into the community in search of employment or advocacy opportunities. The youth leaders will also get a chance to practice their public speaking skills by presenting their work in front of the group. For many of them, this may be the very first time they have gotten the opportunity to make a presentation in a public setting.

As these young leaders move forward, the NJCDD encourages them to take the next step in their advocacy work by participating in the Council’s Monday Morning and Partners in Policymaking (PIP) programs. These young people will become tomorrow’s fresh new group of self advocates and we encourage them to continue their training, to serve on local and state government boards, and to become active and lively members of the disabilities community

Youth Leadership Training Weekend

The Youth Leadership Institute is a new training program under developmental which will hold it’s first class during the summer of 2012 at The College of New Jersey.

The program will offer further leadership training to young self advocates who have completed the NJCDD’s Youth Leadership Program, and will consist of an all-day session where they will work with experts in the developmental disabilities field to get further knowledge about issues facing the disabilities community and what they can do to make an impact.

The goal of the Youth Leadership Institute is to grow and nurture the skills at our youth leaders have learned during the Youth Leadership Program, and to help them take their skills to the next level.

While the pilot year of this program will consist of a one-day session, the NJCDD plans to grow the program incrementally over the next few years – expanding it to a weekend-long coarse, and ultimately to a full week of training sessions.

The first class of the NJCDD’s Youth Leadership Institute may hold between 35 to 40 trainees. For more information about the program, and to sign up, please contact Youth Leadership Program Coordinator Frank Latham