Getting Ahead in an Increasingly Connected World

We Asked Alice (as in Alice in Wonderland) where should we start? And predictably Alice said to start at the beginning. So, for a young person with a disability, any kind of disability, the beginning place to start is with the Youth Leadership Toolkit. Now, are you ready for a BLT? No, not a bacon, lettuce, and tomato, but Becoming Leaders for Tomorrow. The Youth Leadership Toolkit is a neat website that has instructional videos on leadership, education, employment, healthy lifestyles, and more. You will get some good ideas on which you can build from these videos. They can be watched on a computer screen.

The National Youth Leadership Network is an organization that aims to build power among young people with disabilities. It is the only youth-led disability-rights nonprofit organization in the country. You can join this organization and take part in youth leadership development, to include disability pride. One of their main achievements is the connection of youth leaders with opportunities to serve and be active members in their communities.

If you want a really stimulating experience while participating in a leadership development program, then the Youth Leadership Forum may be right for you. Empowering Youth Leaders for the 21st Century is their motto. This is a wonderful program for rising high school juniors and seniors with a disability who aspire to become leaders in their schools and communities. The Youth Leadership Forum is held annually in Richmond (our state capital) for selected students to serve as delegates to the forum and participate in a wide range of activities and learning experiences that include educational, social, artistic, athletic, and recreational events.

Suppose you haven’t yet explored the world of Facebook. Facebook is certainly the most well known of the social networks now on the internet. You should first discuss the probability of opening a Facebook account with your parents. If they think it is OK, then the best place to start is This website is an excellent tutorial on everything you need to know to join and use Facebook. It is especially important to understand the rules on privacy. Once you are fully informed on all of the aspects of Facebook, it can be a great way to meet and connect with others who share your views and values.

To create a better world for young people with a disability, one has to look at what it is that empowers, and what it is that enables the individual to be independent, to set goals, and to have and follow dreams. The National Consortium on Leadership and Disability for Youth is another venue that deserves your attention. It is a national youth-led information, training, and resource center that focuses on the five areas of youth leadership development: learning, connecting, thriving, working, and leading. You can take an interactive quiz on each of these five areas which will surely whet your appetite to want to learn more. One of their newest features is an internship guide for youth with disabilities. This guide is exceptionally comprehensive and has information designed to enhance your competitive posture in the interview process, building a resume, goal setting, and networking in preparation to compete successfully for an internship.

There are two more venues to which we invite your attention in the realm of making the world a better place. One is a really cool site that bills itself as the open door to opportunity where people with disabilities gather, network, and find success in the workplace with employers. One of the amazing features of this website is the list of organizations, dozens of them, identified by their logo, that have signed up as partners in providing jobs for “talented” people with disabilities. Click on any logo and you get a list of real-time job openings that currently exist. You need to sign up (it’s free) to participate.

Last, we want to remind you about assistive technology that is locally available. Every campus of the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) has an extensive array of equipment and software that enhance the learning process of higher education and/or career management.  

So get busy and explore these web sites and find what you want or need to get ahead in our increasingly connected world.

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