A group of four YLF participants smile for a photo.

Advocacy

The second fundamental pillar of Ohio’s Youth Leadership Forum is advocacy. The Youth Leadership Forum believes that it is imperative for the next leaders of the disabled community to know how to advocate for themselves, while being prepared to advocate for others within their community. The delegates learn how to be advocates during the large group sessions, and are given an opportunity to use what they have learned when they visit the state Capitol building while attending the forum.

Some of the first large group sessions of the week are focused on teaching the delegates what advocacy has looked like in the past, while also giving the delegates effective ways they can advocate for themselves and their peers. The delegates get the opportunity to learn about some of the ways their predecessors advocated, by learning about the history of the disability of the movement. As the week continues, the delegates are apart of large group sessions that gives them opportunities to explore how to advocate effectively by looking at case studies and by acting out scenarios.

Every year the delegates get an opportunity to visit the Ohio State Capitol building, as a part of the Youth Leadership Forum. While the delegates are there; they not only get an opportunity to see where Ohio’s laws are made, and the most effective ways to contact their state representatives, they also get an opportunity to talk with a few members of the state legislature and ask them questions. This opportunity allows the delegates to advocate directly to the state government, for themselves or others of the disability community while having the support of their fellow delegates.

Ohio’s Youth Leadership Forum believes the only way for its delegates to truly become leaders, they must know how to advocate for themselves and their peers. It is for this reason that teaching advocacy is an integral part of what the Youth leadership forum seek to be.