PYD Participants Make a Splash in Our Summer 2023 Programs

PYD participants in front of the State House with a blue PYD banner

Our programs are back and better than ever this summer, offering fully in-person participation options for the first time in three years! Thanks to our programs, our participants are able to build leadership skills, work on healthy relationship skills, learn about disability advocacy as well as self-advocacy, and become part of a community where they can feel welcomed and supported.

Working on these skills at our summer programs gives our participants a sense of community, a feeling of purpose, and boosts their self-confidence. From our Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) to Access to Theater (ATT) to Young Leaders Rising (YLR), our participants have been making a splash in our summer programs. Check out what we’ve been up to this summer!

Summer 2023 Programs for Youth with Disabilities

Youth Leadership Forum (YLF)

Our Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) is a conference for young adults with disabilities. Over the span of five days, from June 25th, 2023 to June 29th, 2023, participants engaged in discussions and workshops on topics such as: self-advocacy, disability pride, assistive technology, independent living, employment skills, career exploration, higher education, legislative advocacy, the Disability Rights Movement, and community participation.

We were thrilled to be able to offer in-person participation this year, allowing our participants to experience living and studying on a college campus (Emerson College) . Participants were also able to attend two off-campus learning opportunities at Fenway Park and the Massachusetts State House, which allowed them to apply their learning and discover two important historical and cultural sites in Boston. Additionally, we offered partial virtual access, which allowed remote participants to listen to keynote speakers, attend panels, and select virtual workshop sessions from the comfort of their home.

With guest speakers from organizations such as the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), Easterseals, Aspiritech, MBTA, the Arc, and more, our participants were able to learn about a variety of topics and build meaningful connections. We’re especially grateful for our keynote speakers — Tatyana McFadden, Ellice Patterson, Kelsey Tainsh, and Amir Harper — who delivered speeches that inspired both our peer leaders and delegates.

Access to Theater (ATT)

Our award-winning, six-week theater arts program officially kicked off for the summer on July 10, 2023 and will run through August 18, 2023! Held at three different locations throughout Boston, participants have the option to attend as few or as many weeks of the program as they’d like. This summer, Access to Theater (ATT) will be focusing on the following components of the arts and theater:

  • Acting & Improv
  • Dance & Percussion
  • Poetry & Songwriting
  • Visual Arts
  • Summer Institute

In addition to offering an exciting and engaging way to learn theater arts, ATT also helps our participants to develop their communication, artistic, and leadership skills and build professional and personal relationships.

Young Leaders Rising (YLR)

YLR participants on Zoom

Our Young Leaders Rising (YLR) program will be held in four series from July 10, 2023 to September 1, 2023 with the goal of helping participants develop leadership, career readiness, and self-advocacy skills. Participants have the opportunity to attend selected series or all four, which include:

  1. Justice, Pride, and Activism
  2. Let’s Get Ready to Work and Earn Money
  3. Education in High School and Beyond
  4. Independent Living

Not only will these series include live workshops, online coursework, and interactive projects/hands-on activities, but they’ll also have in-person events, which fosters confidence and allows participants to apply skills learned throughout the sessions.

Each of these series will support our participants in feeling better prepared for future employment, higher education, and independent living.

Support PYD’s Programs

Our programs for youth with and without disabilities are all made possible thanks to friends like you. Your support will allow us to not only continue to offer these programs to our participants free of charge but also give us the opportunity to hire and pay youth with disabilities as fellows. Please consider making a donation to bolster our program development throughout the remainder of 2023 and beyond!

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