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Dear SPAN Website Users: We try to make our website as accessible as possible for parents and others with special accessibility needs.  Please let us know if you have any difficulty accessing our website information and resources and we will do our best to accommodate you!  Reach out to us at apelham@spannj.org  Thanks, and happy browsing through our website!

Youth Resources For Empowerment

On this page, you will find links to resources and guides for youth to begin conversations with parents and health care providers about medical decisions, healthcare, career opportunites, education, college, transportation, housing, and MUCH MORE!

Please feel free to give feedback if there are any useful sites you have visited that you do not see and you think would help the rest of the community!  

The Mission of the NJ YELL:

  • Understand your rights and responsibilities, as they pertain to you.  Find different resources such as housing, internships for college, education, DVRS, and health insurance needs.

  • Learn skills and resources that will assist in promoting self-advocacy, and regulating self care, pertaining to your disability.

  • Know what accommodations you need as you begin to transition into adulthood.

  • Learn ways on how to effectively communicate your needs and wants to others. 

  • Use guidebooks and checklists with doctors, nurse, family and or counselors to aid your in progress.

 

 

Be sure to check back often for new resources and updates!

 We help New Jersey youth/young adults by:

Sharing information and resources for youth/young adults about how to access services, including transition to adult life services (education, health, community life, etc.)

  • Providing an opportunity for youth/young adults with and without special healthcare needs to work together to improve outcomes for New Jersey youth/young adults
  • Training youth/young adults about policy issues, self-advocacy, and available resources and supports
  • Reviewing materials aimed at youth/young adults and providing recommendations to make them more "youth and user friendly"
  • Helping you learn how to tell your story in ways that will make a difference in your home, school, community, and at state and national levels

NJ YELL is currently seeking youth and young adults both with and without health care needs, ranging from ages 16 – 26.  Help make a difference, discuss health care, self- advocacy, transition changes to adult care, and take part in teleconferences and face-to-face meetings that have an impact in your immediate and impending future! JOIN today!  Funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau.  NJ_YELL_recruitment_2013-1.pdf

NJ YELL, the Youth Council for NJ's Community of Care Consortium for Youth with Special Healthcare Needs, is to increase the participation of all youth in the decisions regarding their health care, and in access to services, to enable them to have leadership roles across the state of New Jersey by:          

  • Strengthening the voice of youth in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of integrated, community-based systems of care; 
  • Working to raise awareness, identify and implement strategies among providers, agencies and organizations that serve youth and young adults, especially those with special healthcare needs.

Funded by:  US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau

Erin Seigh
Transition Coordinator
eseigh@spannj.org
732-318-8353
What families/professions are saying about this project: 

"This is what it is all about - youth having a say in our own lives!  NJ YELL has helped me find my own voice and speak for myself and for other youth with special needs."

Key Resources of Interest: 

Yes I Can and So Can You!  Check out this video by self-advocates and the NJ Coalition for Inclusive Education on inclusive transition to adult life!  Young people with disabilities from all over New Jersey are preparing each day as students, family and community members to become integrated and participating members of society.  With that in mind, a group of dedicated parents, self-advocates, and professionals from the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education (NJCIE) Action Group, Transition-Subcommittee, collaborated to produce a video which would share information on creating smooth transitions from high school to adulthood and increase understanding of inclusive post-secondary opportunities for young people with disabilities.  YES I CAN!  So Can YOU! is the culmination of their efforts.  Check it out at http://njcie.org/yes-can-can/

Check out this comprehensive resource on Transition to Adult Life at http://www.spannj.org/transition/TransitionCD/start.htm

SPAN's Top Five Youth Sites

  1. KASA- Kids as Self Advocates is a project created by youth with disabilities for youth.  As stated on their website, "KASA are teens and young adults with disabilities speaking out.  Youth are able and capable to make choices and decisions for themselves if they have the information and support they need!"
  2. Got Transition? National Health Care Transition Center provides information, tools, connections to other youth, and also people who work in the health care systems - so that they will understand the things you are scared or worried about.  Don't forget to click on the Youth Resources page while surfing the site- A GREAT TOOL!
  3. The Youthhood is a place for youth, your friends, and other teens. It's a welcoming community for all youth and a place where all youth belong. They want you to be here. This is your place, your space.  Here you can start thinking about what you want to do with the rest of your life. This Web site was built to help you plan for the future. What will you do after high school? Will you work? Go to college? Live in a place of your own? By using this Web site, you can plan for your future right now!
  4. Youth 4 Youth  is NJ's only goverment funded website dedicated for youth.  It has an amazing list of resources from goverment state agengies, i.e., Division of Youth and Family Services, Division of Child Behavioral Services, and the Juvenille Justice Comission, advocates and information written from youth in order to help answer questions and lead you to towards to agencies provding living.  There are links on housing, college scholarships, bullying, advocacy centers, ways to obtain health care, sources to contacts if you are depressed or sucidical, and even art work by youth, plus more!!!!
  5. NJ YELL Facebook page is the home base of our youth council.  Youth and young adults, with and without special healthcare needs are able to network, share, and learn together in order to discuss, and share ideas.  Topics such as   issues facing today's policy healthcare, as well as many other aspects of transition towards adulthood!  LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!!

Resources for Advocacy and Healthcare

Being a Healthy Adult: How to Advocate for your Health Care provides young adults with a hands on guide for effectively building self- advocacy skills, as well as frequently  asked questions. (In English and Spanish) (http://www.spanadvocacy.org/content/being-healthy-adult-advocating-your-...

Health Insurance Options for Transitioning Youth with Disabilities:  This fact sheet provides information to families and professionals on the various health insurance options for transitioning youth with disabilities, including Medicaid, Medicare, staying on parents' private insurance, accessing insurance via the health insurance exchange marketplace, etc.  Check it out at www.spanadvocacy.org/content/health-insurance-options-transitioning-yout... 

Transition Resources for Health Practitioners is a  PDF booklet, providing a comprehensive overview of New Jersey Transition Resources.

Journey to Adulthood-A Transition Travel Guide This booklet tackles areas of transition, such as leading an IEP meeting, obtaining housing or a  medical doctor.  Each section includes transition activites, allowing a great opportunity for open dialogue between you and your family.

My Health Passport for Teens with Special Needs contains important information for teens to share with providers when visiting a doctor’s office, clinic or stay in a hospital.  Mi Pasaporte de Salud.

This article, featued in AMCHP's Pulse: A monthly letter from the association of maternal and child health programs, includes three real life stories on important topics to consider, according to AMCHP's findings, that could  most impact your health care needs as you transition.   

Healthcare Transition Summary for Teens with Special Needs  summarizes critical healthcare transition information for teens with special needs.  

Bergen County Teen Resource Guide This handbook is aimed specifically for young adults.  It covers local agencies in the NJ area which help youth answer questions and concerns about health, housing and other issues of interest.  

Transition Resources

Transition Checklist for Teens can be used in conjunction with your healthcare team.  This checklist is designed to prepare you with the skills you will need to manage your own health care as you transition. Lista de control para la transición, de adolescentes 

Transition Checklist for Parents/Caregivers offers parents/guardians an opportunity to identity any possible triggers referring to your healthcare plan, building upon the skills you do have as you transition to adulthood.  Lista de control para la transición, para padres/cuidadores

Guidelines for Transition provides information for youth with special needs and their families in the stages of the transition process.

NJ 2-1-1 has resources and information on various topics for youth transitioning to adulthood in the surrounding NJ area.

 

 

        Resources for Independent Living and Career/Education 

The New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, (DVRS) enables individuals with disabilities to obtain employment based on their strengths, priorities, needs, abilities and capabilities. DVRS also supports the state’s Center’s of Independent Living.  Although deceiving, these centers aren’t housing for individuals with disabilities.  Among many other services, the centers support people with disabilities, gearing up for employment-related activities. 

High Bar Urged For Youth With Disabilties is a public service annoucment, (PSA) enlightening viewers on how people with disabilities can achieve their personal and career goals.  The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment highlights the experiences of seven Americans with varying disabilities who’ve excelled at work, sports and in life because of the support of others.  

KASA Articles are  written by KASA members about their challenges as a youth with special needs. Check out the article Job Discrimination by Kate Beckett, who writes candidly about her experience having a career being a person with special needs.

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) supports youth transitioning from school to the work force.  In order to assist youth with various goals, ODEP created "The Guideposts for Success."   The site also incudes skill building activity sheets for each of the five guideposts for at home practice.

 GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awarness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs,is a grant funded program by the U.S. Department of Education.  GEAR UP's  goal is to work exclusively with low-income students, parents and teachers in order to help students be able to pursue a college career.  Some resources GEAR UP offers are tutoring, summer programs and mentoring.  

Do I Tell My Boss? Disclosing Your Mental Condition at Work, lists pros and cons regarding the impact of disclosing your disability to current or potential employers. 

 

Transportation

Access Link is NJ Transit's Para transit service required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Access Link provides people with disabilities Para transit service comparable to the local bus service. This service is specifically for people whose disability prevents them from using existing local bus service.

Telephone: (800) 955-ADA1 (2321) TTY: (800) 955-6765 (The content is provided by the Building Blocks Transition Guide by Resources for Independent Living, Inc.)

NJ-Find-A-Ride is designed to be an information resource about accessible transportation options available to people with disabilities and others in New Jersey that don't have easy, reliable access to private automobile transportation.

Reduced Fare Program has special rates available for people with disabilities and senior citizens 62 years of age or older. Personal assistants ride for free when the person with the disability presents proper identification. You don't need to be a New Jersey resident to be eligible for the program. You can ride on NJ TRANSIT buses and trains at the reduced rate. Many private bus companies operating in the state also participate in the program. For more information please contact New Jersey Transit.

Telephone: (973) 378-6401 (The content is provided by the Building Blocks Transition Guide by Resources for Independent Living, Inc.)

Housing

Try HUD, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Depending on qualifications,  you may be eligible for rental assistance or other housing options. 

Covenant House is a leading advocate for at risk/homeless youth. Their mission is to provide assistance to ANY and ALL homeless youth throughout various states and counties, due to a wide array of economical, psychological or physical reasons.  Upon the first 72 hours of arrival, the staff provides a hot meal, shower, shelter, and medical care if needed.  The program is based upon three core services, known as the Continuum of Care, and are available through in house trainings, phone and van outreach, in order to reach as many youth as possible.

Recreation/Activities

Looking to go out but not sure where to look or what to do?  The Gateway to Social Opportunities, provides a fun and unique opportunity for three group levels, depending on age and school level. The program offers both the Middle/Senior and Senior/Young Adult groups community based activities.   Download their flyer or call for additional information regarding their programs.  

The Pathways for Exceptional Children’s program is dedicated to empowering children, youth, and young adults, ages 3-21.  Pathways offer programs such as mentoring, employment training, recreational events and more. Go on their website for their current list of scheduled activities. 

For those who have a creative side--THIS IS FOR YOU!  VSA New Jersey is The State Organization on Arts and Disability. Programs are designed to meet the needs of participants with all levels of ability. Access services including sign language interpretation, open captioning, assistive listening devices, audio description, and sensory seminars are provided at public events and programs announced. Additional services are provided with advance request.   

*Content can be found on the VSA website under the access tab.   

Club Hero is a social club for individuals with disabilities, open only for those 21 years old and over.  Members can attend social events such as:  dances, dinners, art classes, music lessons, Broadway shows, and even weekend trips!  ARC employees and volunteers are present for all activities and trips.

Personal Health and Wellness

How to Eat Healthy--Healthy eating is a lifestyle change, as opposed to the many diet trends out in the media these days.  Making this change to a healthy lifestyle increases your psysical/mental health, and overall energy.  This article is complete with pictures, steps, and interactive ways to help make the change to a healthier you!

The Healthy Bodies Toolkit is a guide for boys and girls with disabilities during the onset of puberty.  The toolkit is written for a broad range of disabilities and provides a wide variety of visual supports and social stories that are especially useful for youth with autism or who are nonverbal.  Both male and female toolkits are provided.

Bam! Mind and Body gives information about topics that young people care about.  In a youth friendly format this site focuses on issues including nutrition, personal safety, and healthy life choices using games, quizzes, and other interactive features.

NIDA for Teens is an interactive website filled with activities, such as games, age appropriate fact sheets, and teen stories in order to teach youth and young adults health and drug abuse.

Girlshealth.gov offers young women information on useful topics pertaining to issues, such as, puberty, health and well-being.  Their mission is to empower girls to create strong, positive relationships, and healthy futures. 

Sex Etc. is a fact based comprehensive website, geared for both guys and girls, about issues related to sexual health and relationships. 

En Espanol - Quierosaber.org :  Informacion sobre la salud sexual y enfermedades de transmision sexual (a website of ASHA).

Mental Health

Balancing Act is a publication sponsored by St. Claire's Health System.  This resource offers groups, events, and links in the Sussex County for individuals, friends and family with mental illness. 

StrengthofUS is an online community developed by NAMI and young adults.  It offers peer support, resources sharing, access articles on relevant issues, and tip sheets.  

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed about the future and what will happen to you, your family, and the future. The tip Sheet,  Coping in Hard times for Youth in High School and College Age, can provide help to identify stressors and offer coping tools that may be able to provide some relief during extreme times of panic.

PTSD-Teens Suffer Too- a radio clip from a special series from Youth Radio.  Youth touch upon some of the  mental and pshysical reactions when suffering from PTSD. 

Where to get help for PTSD-THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR PTSD:  Information for finding therapists, resources for family and friends, crisis prevention and more.

Voices4Hope is designed for youth as a tool to gain resources and stigma busting information as a method to help insprire, inform, and empower young adults in continuing education, and or/employment.

Articles of Interest

Seeds to Success: Youth Farmstand Program is a case study preformed by Rutgers Cooperative Research and Extension (RCRE).  The program uses an entrepreneurial approach in which students with disabilties fill out an application, go through an interview process, and get hired in order to work 12 hours a week at a farmstand they help manage.  They learn life skills such as customer service, marketing and workplace expectations. Youth who have finished the program have said they feel more independent, less reliant on their families and more hopeful about their future independence. 

MTV’s documentary ‘World of Jenks’ is a show meant to educate and expose MTV viewers about topics such as autism and homelessness.  Filmmaker Andrew Jenks meets and follows three young people in their everyday lives to gain a better understanding in order to break down barriers about disabilities and stereotypes. The show is now on its second season and airs at 11pm.

Staff: 

Erin Seigh, Transition Coordinator