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Youth Advisors



Our youth advisors are members of the award-winning Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition (YALC). Youth leaders take action and advise their adult counterparts. They advance ideas for positive change, like the Youth Bill of Rights. 

2012 Beyond Youth Leadership National Award
2012 Ohio Teen Leadership Award
2010 Power of Youth Regional Award

Get involved.

What is the Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition (YALC)?

It is a civic leadership program for youth ages 13-18 in Cuyahoga County. The YALC develops young adult leaders by training and supporting them in advocating for youth issues and links them to their communities through service learning experiences.

The YALC usually has between 150–200 members, with tiers of leadership and engagement. There are members from all 11 Cuyahoga County Council districts.

Quick Links


Be a leader: Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition

Be informed: Youth Pages: directory of services and resources for teens in  Cuyahoga County

Be active: Youth Programs: a database of after-school and summer programs

YALC

What does the YALC do?

Teams focus on topics important to youth and their communities. Working together helps young people build skills and create positive change. The focus areas include:

The YALC provides youth with opportunities to: 

YALCYoung people work in partnership with adults to become leaders on issues that matter to them and develop skills that will be useful for the rest of their lives.

The group usually has monthly meetings. They plan and do activities that match their interests and goals. Sometimes, the group travels to represent Cuyahoga County to the state and nation.

“Overall this week helped better my character as a future leader and gave me an experience I will always remember.” – a YALC member who traveled to Washington, D.C., for Citizenship Washington Focus, an opportunity to explore, develop, and refine the civic engagement skills the students need to be outstanding leaders

With the support and youth-development focus of the YALC, teens graduate from high school and go on to higher education or post-secondary training (100% or nearly 100% in every year’s cohort). They also stay active in community work.

“We are finding that YALC members have continued to be involved in student government, are involved in community organizations that support service opportunities, and are more civically engaged.” –Robin Stone, Program Coordinator, OSUE/YALC

In fact:

95% of members stay committed to community service and advocacy beyond YALC and high-school graduation

20% of previous YALC youth leaders donate time and energy to the YALC when they are home from college

 

YALC

How did the YALC start?

History
In 2005, the Family & Children First Council (FCFC) and the Cuyahoga County Board of Health began the youth-led Cuyahoga County Youth Advisory Committee as a component of the Wellness program.

In early 2013, the group’s name changed to the Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition, as a way to reflect the many leadership workshops, summits, and county-wide collaborations facilitated by the youth.

The Ohio State University Extension (OSUE) completed and won an RFP process to be the Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition vendor. OSUE is responsible for recruiting and training youth to participate and attend subcommittee meetings to provide the youth perspective.


What is the YALC Youth Bill of Rights?

The youth developed a Bill of Rights in partnership with various organizations and individuals, addressing the needs and rights of young people in Cuyahoga County.  

In July 2013, the FCFC Full Council heard the Bill of Rights and voted to approve and support its content.

The full text of the Bill of Rights is below. Much like the FCFC Service Values, these tenets guide the actions and daily decisions of FCFC member organizations.


 

The Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition of Cuyahoga County Bill of Rights

We, the Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, in order to establish our basic rights, to protect our liberties as human beings and American citizens, to ensure ourselves a valuable education, and to assert the power to make choices for ourselves. The decisions we make will affect our individual futures and well-being, as well as the future prosperity of our community, our county, and the world. Therefore, we call upon ourselves and upon other individuals, organizations, and the Cuyahoga County Council to recognize these rights, to uphold them through observance, and to defend them through progressive legislative measures:

1.  Voice: We, the Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition of Cuyahoga County, are entitled to voice opinions in matters that will impact our lives.  
  a.  Voice in Education: Youth should have a say in their education and should be represented on school boards and other decision-making bodies that directly affect education. 
  b.  Voice in Health: Youth should have the right to know the reasoning behind any medical decision made on our behalf, as well as any alternate options. Youth should be completely informed in an age-appropriate manner of such medical decisions and their benefits and consequences. 
  c.  Voice in the Community: Youth should have the right to be accepted and active members of the community. Youth have the right to respectfully ask questions, receive answers, and have differing views acknowledged by adults when making decisions that affect the lives of youth in Cuyahoga County. Youth have the right to engage in respectful, civil, and open dialogue with adults and be taken seriously when so participating.  
  d.  Voice in the Courtroom: All Youth shall have the right to independent legal representation whereby the attorney acts as an attorney for the youth alone.  
2.  Education: We, the Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition of Cuyahoga County, are entitled to a quality K-12 public education that will help us succeed in the future and instill in us the desire for lifelong learning. 
  a.  Extra-Curricular Activities: Extra-curricular activities, including athletics, the arts, linguistics, politics, and any other areas in which the community’s youth express interest, should be made available to all students, and all students should be supported in these pursuits. 
  b.  Curriculum and Subjects: Youth are entitled to an education that provides them with proficiency in the basic academic skills, prepares them for future success, and covers a variety of age-appropriate subjects both academic and social. 
  c.  Safety and Health: The physical and mental safety and health of all Youth should be protected at all times on all indoor and outdoor school environments. An environment that is as free of drugs, weapons, and violence should be made available to all Youth at all times on school grounds.  
     i. Bullying: Schools must institute a “zero tolerance” bullying policy and should pursue any fear, threat, or act of bullying in an appropriate disciplinary manner.  
     ii. School Staff: Schools must strive to provide school nurses, psychiatrists, social workers, and guidance counselors that are accessible to all youth. 
  d. Individual Needs: Schools must respect and accommodate the learning abilities and aptitudes of all students. Youth must be provided all needed accommodations that are set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In addition, all Youth have the right to express their own identity and to be respected for their individuality. 
  e.  School Funding: Schools should strive to provide sufficient funding to permit all Youth to have a successful educational experience. This may include supplying nutritionally sufficient foods, well-trained and paid teachers, appropriate and up-to-date materials, transportation to and from school, as well as any additional resources. Cuyahoga County Youth should have access to athletics, arts, and other school activities regardless of their families’ ability to pay. 
  f.  Preparation for the Future: Schools should strive to provide the community’s Youth with the tools necessary for their personal advancement in all aspects of their educational life. Schools should strive to provide counselors, advisors, and life skills training to assist all Youth to prepare for future educational or career goals. Youth should be involved in the selection of such counselors and have the right to know all their options and choose their own desired future career paths. 
3.  Health: We, the Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition of Cuyahoga County, have the right to physical, mental, and spiritual wellness as well as health education and youth-specific community health resources. 
  a.  Physical: Youth should be entitled to any medical care, nutrition, and fitness deemed appropriate and necessary. If any youth member of the community cannot afford medical care or nutrition, appropriate care should be provided for them. 
  b.  Mental: Youth have the right to emotional well-being, and the right to an adequate support system. 
  c.  Spiritual: Youth of the community have the right to follow their own spiritual path without the fear of retaliation or discrimination.  
  d.  Health Education: Youth have the right to an education on the dangers of drug use, unprotected sex, abuse, self-abuse, and on suicide prevention.  
  e.  Community Health Resources: Youth are entitled to youth-specific community resource programs that work only with youth to address health issues such as alcoholism, drug and gambling addiction, teen pregnancy, suicide prevention, and violence. 
4.  General Well-being: We, the Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition of Cuyahoga County, have the right to be provided with the tools that will lead to a healthy and productive youth and adult life.  
  a.  Clothing: The Youth of the community should have access to sufficient low cost or free clothing and shoes.  
  b.  Shelter: Youth have the inherent right to safe shelter. Cuyahoga County should strive to provide adequate safe emergency shelter to those who need it, especially to youth who are without a home or stable living environment.  
  c.  Food: Youth have the right to access adequate nutrition, and the community should strive to provide sufficient food shelters to meet the needs of its Youth.  
  d.  Employment: Cuyahoga County should strive to make age appropriate employment opportunities available to Youth of the community. Each such youth employee should be entitled to retain for their personal use any funds that they earn. 
5.  Family, Home, and Community: We, the Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition of Cuyahoga County, have the right to a safe, loving, and healthy home. 
  a.  Safety and Protection: The Youth of our community have the right to protection from all types of abuse and exploitation, whether physical, verbal, emotional or sexual, and to be supported in reporting and combating such abuse.  
  b.  Love and Value: Every youth should be loved, valued and respected. The community should be supportive and encourage positive and high expectations of Youth.  
  c.  Influences and Role Models: Our community leaders should provide positive, trustworthy, supportive influences and role models to help guide the Youth of the community.  
  d.  Privacy: Youth have the right to age-appropriate privacy in their homes.  
  e.  Freedom from Discrimination and Prejudice: Youth have the right not to be discriminated against based on race, color, religion, gender, age, mental and physical disability, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, political views, source of income, gender identity, or other basis prohibited by applicable law.  
6.  Recreation: We, the Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition of Cuyahoga County, deserve access to safe and clean recreational areas.  
    Parks: Youth should have available safe, clean, and affordable access to parks and recreational facilities, at all times in accordance with appropriate local curfews.  
    Culture: Youth should have reasonable access to music, art, libraries, museums, and other resources that could strengthen their intellectual creativity and curiosity.  
    Exercise: Youth should have access to education and support in their pursuit of a livelong healthy lifestyle. 
    Fun: Youth have the right to experience age-appropriate freedom and enjoyment in a secure and safe environment.  

YALCWe, the Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, understand that if granted these rights, we take on the responsibility and accountability for our individual actions that could affect our county and community. We will work together to improve communication and transparency in the decision-making process between the youth and adults of Cuyahoga County. We will work together to form strong youth-adult partnerships to address issues facing the youth of Cuyahoga County. As youth we will encourage others to give back to their communities through service and learning, allowing us to leave our communities better than we found them.

Acknowledgments: Youth of Cuyahoga County
Drafted by: Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition of Cuyahoga County


How do I get involved or learn more?

For more information, please visit the Youth Advocacy and Leadership Coalition website, www.empower-youth.org, or contact Robin Stone at 216-429-8200, ext. 234. 

The Ohio State University Extension, Cuyahoga County
5320 Stanard Avenue Cleveland, Ohio 44103
Phone: (216) 429-8200
Fax: (216) 429-3146