June 24th & 25th, 2021

Virtual Unviersity of
Youth Power (VUYP)

On June 24-25, 2021, we are hosting the seventh annual University of Youth Power  via Zoom, a for-youth-by-youth social justice conference that is modeled after a college experience. UYP is the premier youth peer leadership conference that provides Youth Peer Advocates and change agents the opportunity to build skills and expand their professional network. Young people ages 16 to 30 can register with a major of Peer Advocacy, Systems Advocacy, or Recovery Advocacy.  UYP 2021 will take place via Zoom.

 

Scholarship Opportunities:

Youth Peer Advocates and other young leaders ages 16-30 have the opportunity to attend #UYP21 free of charge.

Share your voice Social Media Campaign!

 

  1. Go to Canva.com (If you do not already have an account, make one. it is free to sign up!)
  2. Click on “Instagram Post” template under “Create a design”
  3. Upload a photo of yourself participating in advocacy, speaking opportunities’, headshot, etc. to the “Uploads” section to the left
  4. Insert your uploaded photo to the white template
  5. Download the #UYP2021 template here.
  6. Upload the template into the Uploads section on Canva
  7. Place the template on top of your selected photo. Use the feature Position near the top of the page to place the template on top of your photo.
  8. Now fill in the blanks! Please try to limit your response to about 5 words.
  9. Share your purpose of strength on social media and tag @youthpowerofftnys #UYP2021! Inspire the world with how you’re living out your systems experiences to positively impact your community!

Inspire the world with how you’re living out your systems experiences to positively impact your community!

Schedule

Thursday, June 24th, 2021 | 12:00 PM - 04:30 PM

Welcome | 12:00 PM – 12:15 PM 
Tiara Springer-Love

Spoken Word & Keynote | 12:15 PM – 12:45 PM
Leah James

Leah James is a stroke survivor, spoken word artist and public speaker. She has performed across the country including the world’s largest poetry showcase twice and now hosts her own events. Leah has been writing for over 17 years and performing for over a decade. She has two poetry collections published and plans to write her own solo book this year. She hopes to bring a message of love, healing and acceptance to the world.

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Session I | 01:00 PM – 02:15 PM

The ABC’s of Systems Advocacy 
Zack Kilmer • Systems Advocacy 

This workshop will teach you the ABCs of initiating change and using your life experience as a young person at all levels of government, agencies, and bureaucracies that we want to be influenced by youth voice. As advocates, we have had to navigate a system at one time or another. It can seem overwhelming trying to enact change within something so big and interwoven. We are here to tell you that it’s possible!

Pathways to Recovery
Alex Carpenter • Recovery Advocacy

As we have battled with the prevalence of substance and alcohol use, recovery has taken many different forms than the traditional one’s we have become accustomed to. Join us for a panel discussion on the different pathways to recovery , and learn how using them, has helped people across the recovery spectrum.

Self Care Strategies to Use and Share
Lynn Goldberg & Amanda ShpiglerWellness

In this workshop, we will talk about the importance of self-care as a helping professional, caring for others. We’ll explore the physical and emotional impact of stress & the phenomenon of burnout. Participants will gain an understanding of self-care strategies that they can use themselves, as well as share with those they work with.

YPA Say What?
Robbie Lettieri • Peer Advocacy

In this presentation we will offer information on what it means to be a Youth Peer Advocate (YPA), the benefits of joining the Youth Peer Movement, and steps needed to become a credentialed YPA. After we review beneficial information regarding the work of YPA’s we will hear directly from YPA’s working across New York State on a virtual panel discussion.

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Session II | 02:30 PM – 03:45 PM

Mental Health and Wellness: Raise Your Voice
Ariela Perez-Wallach & Cohen Miles-Rather • Wellness

In 2016 MHANYS celebrated a legislative victory – NYS became the first in the nation to require schools to teach about mental health as part of the k-12 curriculum. Learn about the role of youth advocates and how you can make a difference in promoting meaningful change through advocacy and activism.

The Melting Pot: Learning the Ingredients to Engagement
Cathy Kent & Shainek Edmundson • Systems Advocacy

This training will be grounded in engaging youth from many different backgrounds and cultures . We will begin with acknowledging race, culture, and ethnicity and how this informs and impacts engagement strategies and skills. This training will address factors that come in to play ,including cultural impacts on engagement and the stigma of getting help or support. The key components of this training will be self-awareness, skill building and assessment.

Clubhouses Aren’t Just For Kids Anymore
Charles Anthony-Rice • Recovery Advocacy

Join us for a panel discussion as we take our own virtual adventure and redefine what it means to join an OASAS Clubhouse as a young person. With first hand perspectives from staff, youth & young adults who attend clubhouses across New York State, you’ll see that the adventure never ended, it just took a different route. Learn about the work that clubhouses are doing within their communities, the life skills learned by the youth & young adults, and the lasting impact being made for generations to come. Just think, this time you don’t need a great imagination for the adventure, just some decent internet. See you there!

Knowing Your Role and How to Communicate it to Colleagues and Teams
Imari Wilson • Peer Advocacy

The activity attached to the presentation will be for participants to create ‘elevator pitches’ for each demographic. These can include how they communicate the peer role to colleagues within their program, others within their agency, and staff from cross-systems’ agencies. In reflection of the activity, we will examine similarities within elevator speeches, and ensure explanations and definitions are in line with the CFTSS definition of the role of a YPA.

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Session III | 04:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Snack Chat Prep-Session 
Youth Power Staff

This workshop will provide an overview of tomorrow’s Snack & Chat with state system representatives along with giving students the opportunity to create a safe space among one another to discuss personal experiences and ways of advocating for change within those state systems.

Friday, June 25th 2021 | 12:00 PM - 04:30 PM

Welcome | 12:00 PM – 12:15 PM
Tiara Springer-Love

Meditation | 12:15 PM – 12:30 PM
Porcia Lewis

Porcia Lewis began meditation in 2017 while living in LA. There she joined an organization known as SGI and learned the power of chanting, manifestation, and allowing things to just be. In 2018, Porcia moved back to NYC and began to partner with other healing businesses, organizations, and brands within the Brooklyn community. She began to offer guided meditation and breathwork classes to her community in person and online at sliding-scale prices, and hopes to branch out beyond Brooklyn. Porcia believes that yoga and meditation builds resiliency in the mind. Allowing one to clear their mind while navigating through obstacles.

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Session I | 12:45 PM – 02:00 PM

Investing in Yourself, You are Valuable! Developing Your own Self-Care Plan
Crystal Collins & Melody Tien • Wellness 

This self-care presentation is designed to a help students:
⮚ Understand self-care
⮚ Identify self-care needs
⮚ Evaluate coping skills
⮚ Identify barriers and areas for improvement to self-care
⮚ Develop a self-care plan
⮚ Put their self-care plan into action

Creative Connections
Emily Vaianella • Systems Advocacy

During this workshop, we will explore the unique ways we can connect with our community when feeling isolated. We have all faced loneliness and isolation during a global pandemic, and many of us may have experienced these feelings long before the world shut down. Our community in psychiatric institutions have been isolated, disconnected from the community, and without basic human rights. As a result, we created the Creative Connections Campaign at Hands Across Long Island. Participants will explore and navigate the barriers to isolation, and collaborate to imagine the ways we can advocate against these human rights violations while connecting with our community members who are facing institutionalization

 

Harm Reduction Basics
Ben Riker • Recovery Advocacy

Students will learn about harm reduction concepts and strategies that will empower them to make healthy choices for themselves and others regarding substance use. Students will be able to:
1. Define the term “harm reduction.”
2. Identify key harm reduction strategies.
3. Identify the ways in which drug use may be potentially harmful. (i.e., health-related harm, academic harm, social/emotional harm, legal harm).
4. Demonstrate and apply harm reduction strategies to decision-making processes in real world situations.

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Session II | 02:15 PM – 03:30 PM

Snack & Chat Breakout Sessions
Tiara Springer-Love

Our Snack & Chat event provides an opportunity for young people and state leaders to speak
candidly about real life issues that youth face while in state systems. It is intimidating for young people to speak frankly with government leaders and this dinner gives youth the chance to communicate in a relaxed setting. We create an atmosphere of sharing and partnership that is comfortable for both youth and adults. Join us for an interactive discussion with State Agency Leaders to bring YOUR voice to the table.

Meditation
Porcia Lewis

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Closing/Graduation | 03:45 PM – 04:30 PM
Youth Power Team

Congratulations Graduates!

Keynotes

Leah James

Leah James

Leah James is a stroke survivor, spoken word artist and public speaker. She has performed across the country including the world's largest poetry showcase twice and now hosts her own events. Leah has been writing for over 17 years and performing for over a decade. She...

read more
Porcia Lewis

Porcia Lewis

Porcia Lewis began meditation in 2017 while living in LA. There she joined an organization known as SGI and learned the power of chanting, manifestation, and allowing things to just be. In 2018, Porcia moved back to NYC and began to partner with other healing...

read more

Meet the Professors

Zack Kilmer

Zack Kilmer

Zack Kilmer is an autistic LGBTQ+ young adult who has had a passion for activism and civics since...

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Robbie Lettieri

Robbie Lettieri

Robert Lettieri is a national public speaker and advocate who is passionate about creating a more...

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Alex Carpenter

Alex Carpenter

Alex came from a home with domestic violence and started facing mental health issues at a young...

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Melody Tien

Melody Tien

Melody Tien moved to Albany in 2013, to pursue her passion in human services and earned her...

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Lynn Goldberg

Lynn Goldberg

Lynn Goldberg is a clinical social worker, currently working as the CHAMP Project Specialist with...

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Cohen-Miles Rath

Cohen-Miles Rath

Cohen Miles-Rath, MSW, is a Social Work Professional and Peer-Advocate with almost four years of...

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Imari Wilson

Imari Wilson

 Imari Wilson is an advocate for youth and adults of marginalized communities who have been...

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Emily Vaianella

Emily Vaianella

Emily (she/they) is a psychiatric survivor and New York Certified Peer Specialist currently...

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Amanda Shpigler

Amanda Shpigler

Amanda Shpigler is a recent graduate of the University at Albany, SUNY with a master’s degree in...

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Cathy Kent

Cathy Kent

My name is Cathy Kent and I am a Youth peer Advisor at the Strong Families and Communities...

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Crystal Collins

Crystal Collins

Crystal Collins has been employed as an Advocate/Coordinator at the New York State Justice Center...

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Ben Riker

Ben Riker

Ben is a father of two, a person in long term sustained recovery and a passionate advocate for...

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QUESTIONS?

  • For questions about professors, scholarships, and/or general UYP questions, please contact Amanda Davidson at ADavidson@ftnys.org or call/text 518-949-0368.