This blog was written by Alyce (she/her), one of the facilitators of our Young Leaders program.

Finding the Young Leaders Program in 2020 was kind of like a lightbulb moment: a moment of inspiration where everything just fell into place.  I hadn't found any spaces where I could build my leadership skills and connect with other like-minded people as a disabled young person. No places where my disability was seen as an Strength.asset not a Weakness.deficit.  

Finding community through the Young Leaders Program 

So, when I was accepted into the program, I was equal parts excited and nervous. I was excited to see how much I could learn as an aspiring leader and youth worker– youth work courses don't seem to be accessible and inclusive , even though 1 in 6 people in Australia are disabled. The nerves came from insecurity: am I enough of a leader, am I disabled enough, am I – just as I am – enough for this program? 

Those doubts slipped away as I began the program. I felt a sense of safety as soon as it began, because of our fantastic facilitators, Amy and Cindy. They   set up ground rules to make sure that everyone felt included and understood that what we shared in the group was private. I also felt a sense of belonging  with my group – and it wasn’t just because we all had some kind of disability. It was because we were all united by one goal: we wanted to achieve something – be it creating a blog, putting on a fundraiser, or Speaking up.advocating for ourselves. Every goal was valid. I learnt so much about myself through the workshops: who I am as a leader, but also who I am as a person. I learnt about the many ways you can be a leader and how to do it in an accessible, inclusive way. I learnt about disabilities that were different to my own, and how I could be a better ally to people with them. 

Hearing from the guest speakers and getting to soak up all their wisdom  was very valuable to me. Representation is so important. Too often, as disabled young  people, we feel When you are left out or treated as if you are not important.marginalised, When you are not given the same rights as other people.disenfranchised and ‘other’-ed. Learning about all  the remarkable things the guest speakers have done was validating and reassuring. The speakers showed us that disability could be an asset rather than a deficit and my wonderfully crazy, emotional, disabled self felt ready to tackle any challenge.  

Working for YDAS 

When I saw that YDAS was hiring a facilitator for the Young Leaders Program I jumped at the opportunity. I summoned up everything I had learnt and went into the interview, knowing I could do this. If getting an interview was the cake, the call that I got the job was the cherry (dipped in gold) on the top!  

What I value most about working at YDAS, particularly being a part of the YLP team, is that it is not slow moving or still.stagnant. We are constantly working to make this program more accessible, more inclusive and, ultimately, better for all disabled young people.

I am so proud to be part of this team. I would be so overjoyed if I left one young disabled person feeling even half as empowered as I felt when I did the Young Leaders Program.  

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Photo of Alyce, who has short blonde hair and is wearing glasses and smiling at the camera.