Youth & Education

Access Living’s Youth and Education Programs empower youth with disabilities to take pride in themselves and their accomplishments, find options and meaningful choices to live, learn and work in their communities, be considered and consider themselves as full and equal members of society, develop self-advocacy skills to fight discrimination and build skills, confidence and opportunities to have a voice in decisions that affect them.

We offer youth-friendly independent living and self-advocacy skills development, leadership programs, community organizing training, education policy advocacy, mentoring and a peer support group.

Our Youth Advisory Board helps us stay on track to make sure youth say what they need. Our programs are housed in both our Advocacy and Independent Living Departments.

Access Living’s Youth Independent Living Services

Access Living recognizes that today's youth with disabilities are tomorrow's disability rights leaders. Our Independent Living Skills Training’s and programs are designed equip people with skills to live independently and to develop new leaders in the Disability Rights movement who:

• Take pride in themselves and their accomplishments;

• Find options and meaningful choices to live, learn and work in their communities;

• Develop self-advocacy skills to fight discrimination; and

• Develop skills and opportunities to have a voice in decisions that affect them

Youth, Education and Disability Advocacy at Access Living

At Access Living, our youth and education disability advocacy includes community organizing and policy work. This work focuses on:

Meaningful transitions from high school to postsecondary options -- whether work or school: Access Living Youth Community Organizing Groups, such as Advance Youth Leadership Power and The Empowered Fe-Fes, advocate for coordination between schools, community partners and businesses to empower young people with disabilities with disability history and culture, increase awareness about people with disabilities, increase the education and employment rates of young people with disabilities, and promote basic life skills independence.

Youth leadership development: Groups such as Advance Youth Leadership Power teach our youth about disability history, community pride and advocacy traditions, and taking the lead on social change. Our youth learn through one-on-one mentoring and peer group opportunities.

Programmatic and physical access to education in the Chicago Public Schools: Access Living’s Education Policy Work ensures that that CPS’ more than 50,000 students with disabilities, their families and teachers work together to achieve meaningful education outcomes on an equal basis with non-disabled students, with solid postsecondary preparation.

Our young people have the ability to exercise the civil rights won by previous generations of their peers. With our community education, organizing and policy/legislative efforts, Access Living is a powerful action-oriented setting for the personal growth and self-advocacy of our young people with disabilities throughout Chicago.