(Bringing Youth on Board) 

young women  in wheelchairs talking in the foreground, a young man using a walker dancing with a young lady with her arm in a cast. in the background women dancing and laughing


APRIL has and still leads an ambitious and beneficial collaboration with rural youth with disabilities, recognizing that the young people of our country are our true leaders. With the support of the University of Kansas RTC on Full Participation in Independent Living (RTC:FPIL) and other national partners, APRIL focuses on bringing rural youth into the Independent Living Movement by:

Youth Conference 

  • Hosting the first large-scale gathering of rural youth with disabilities and CILs at the 10th annual APRIL conference in Minneapolis.
  • Continuing the youth pre-conference and conference workshops until the 20th Annual Conference when youth attendance grew so large they became an official conference rather than a precon.
  • Establishing an ongoing Youth Steering Committee to make sure the youth conference is for youth and by youth.
  • Working with noted photographers to capture the youth involvement at the Conference.
  • Early support from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation providing stipends to youth to help cover the costs of attending Conferences and continued outreach today to find support for youth across the country to join us every year.
  • Providing a "Youth Wrap Up" session at the conference each year- so the youth get the last word.
  • Creating an entire track at the APRIL Conference geared to those New to IL or Youth.

Leadership and Mentoring

  • Adding 2 youth designated seats to the APRIL Board of Directors, and continuing to fill other seats with qualified youth when applicable. 
  • Hiring a Youth Programs Coordinator to work on growing and sustaining youth related projects nationally.
  • Youth Peer to Peer Establishing a Youth Peer to Peer Mentoring program where we send young leaders out to help other CILS start, improve, or begin the planning process of including youth into their programs or creating a youth focused program.
  • Youth Topical Calls  APRIL understands that across the country the hot topic is youth and young adults.  We understand that many Centers for Independent Living and Statewide Independent Living Councils are unsure how to get youth involved.  This year we have asked our youth expert mentors to present on topics that could assist your goals of starting a program or growing the existing youth involvement you may already have.  Every other month we will have one mentor present on a topic that is often discussed in our Youth Peer to Peer Mentoring for a nominal fee of $25 each.  We will have 30 minutes that our mentor will be presenting on the topic.  Then the following 30 minutes will be an opportunity for an open discussion amongst all callers on that topic.  During that time, we can brainstorm, share experiences, and ask questions while we learn from each other with the guidance of our mentor. We understand that not everyone is at the point in their CIL or SILC to have a peer mentoring, but we want to support and assist the best way we can with these calls. 
June 7th, 2017 3:00pm-4:00pm EST Fee for Service and Youth Programs
August 2nd, 2017 3:00-4:00 PM EST Sexuality and Youth
October 4th, 2017 3:00-4:00 PM EST Creating a Curriculum


The APRIL Youth Advocacy Training is now open!!

  • This is a FREE 4 week training in partnership with University of Montana RTC:Rural Research & Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities.
  •   It will be done via phone/internet throughout the summer. 
  • If you are interested in learning more about self and systems advocacy, the disability right law and how they affect you, and how to speak up in your community to see change happen-REGISTER TODAY!!The training will be going through a curriculum to assist each of us on our independent living advocacy goals.
  • This will be lead by Mike Beers and the Summit Independent Living Center, BASE staff.  We will have discussions, activities, and partner building during this four week training.  We look forward to having anyone and everyone join us.  Please register below for this free training below. If you are unable to attend all training times please go ahead and register and we will contact you for other ways you could be involved. 
  • Register Here http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3584076/Youth-Advocacy-Training-Registration
  • The first training will start June 14th at 4:00-5:30pm EST.  For more information please contact Sierra Royster at 919-567-3602 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Training dates are as follows all at 4:00-5:30pm EST:

June 14th, 2017

June 28th, 2017

July 12th, 2017

July 26th, 2017

This Training is a Partnership with University of Montana RTC:Rural Research & Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities. RTC:Rural research is supported by grant #90RT50250100 from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research within the Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services. The opinions expressed reflect those of the author and are not necessarily those of the funding agency.

For more information contact Sierra Royster, Youth Programs Coordinator

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



youth 2012youth with disabilities standing in front of the road to freedom bus. to the right a chalk drawn picture of justin dart jr.youth group photo 2014