Students with disabilities invited to apply for Youth Leadership Forum

Washington state high school students with disabilities are invited to learn leadership, citizenship and personal skills at the 19th annual Youth Leadership Forum. The Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment is accepting applications through May 30.

The Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) is designed for students with disabilities who want to be or are leaders in their schools and communities. The forum will be held at the Dumas Bay Centre in Federal Way from Aug. 4-9. There is no cost to parents for their student to attend, and students do not have to be receiving services from their school districts to apply.

Eligible youth include:

  • Incoming high school juniors and seniors (as of July 1)
  • 2019 high school graduates; or
  • Students up to age 21 who are receiving transition services from their high schools

“The program provides students with a chance to practice their leadership skills in a safe environment,” said Julie Peddy, Youth Leadership Forum co-chair. “Many students return the next year as counselors or guest speakers. Many also become successful, productive employees.”

Daman Wandke is the CEO and founder of a business that helps organizations improve their website accessibility, increase their market base and reduce their exposure to potential litigation.

“I was and continue to be mentored by leaders in our community, starting when I was a YLF delegate,” he said. “As a disability advocate and entrepreneur, I know that mentorship and representation can impact the next generation of leaders in the disability community.”

This year’s forum will feature a student store where students will gain experience in customer service, sales and merchandising.

Applications are due by May 30. To apply online, go to the GCDE website and select “Youth Leadership Forum Application” under “Youth Leadership Forum” or contact Elaine Stefanowicz at 360-902-9362 or email

For those who would like to volunteer, applications are due by May 15. The YLF needs volunteer counselors, including two registered nurses. Go to the GCDE website and select “Youth Leadership Forum Counselor Application” under “Youth Leadership Forum.”

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