ANNAPOLIS, MD (August 2, 2007) – Lt. Governor Anthony Brown today met with students participating in the 2007 Maryland Youth Leadership Forum, a unique career and leadership program that provides training, role models and mentors to assist rising high school juniors and seniors with disabilities to become tomorrow's leaders. Participants were chosen based on their leadership potential, academic success and involvement in their school and community.
“The Maryland Youth Leadership Forum encourages students to meet and build friendships with other students from across the state while developing their leadership skills and gaining valuable career information and guidance,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “It is an outstanding program that prepares these young people to be future leaders in their community.”
The Maryland Youth Leadership Forum, a week-long residential program held at Bowie State University, gives students a taste of college life while offering opportunities for them to increase their independence. Throughout the week, students work in small groups to explore and develop personal and career plans. The guest speakers, all successful adults with disabilities, address topics ranging from the history of the disability rights movement and self advocacy, to careers and technology. Students are paired with mentors who offer valuable insights into careers and maximizing independence. As a part of the program, students also spend a day in Annapolis, meeting with legislators and experiencing the legislative process. Twenty-five students who have a variety of disabilities are participating in this year’s Leadership Forum under the direction of Independence Now, Inc., a center for independent living in Riverdale, Maryland. Centers for independent living are non-residential nonprofit agencies operating within a local community by individuals with disabilities.
As a demonstration of his commitment to expand opportunities for people with disabilities, Governor Martin O’Malley yesterday signed an Executive Order to recreate the Governor’s Interagency Transition Council (IATC). Originally created in 2000 to improve the post-secondary school outcomes of youth with disabilities, the new IATC will bring together more agencies and programs that serve individuals with disabilities and will give greater leadership roles to members of IATC.
“Youth with disabilities have a considerably higher unemployment rate than those without disabilities and fewer pursue higher education after high school,” said Governor O’Malley. “We must ensure these young people have the same bright future and career opportunities as other students across the state. By expanding the IATC we will convene a leadership team that will coordinate all the state’s resources to make certain that every student in Maryland has the opportunity to succeed in life and in their chosen careers.”