Youth Reach

Young people with or without disabilities want what all young people want: a chance to learn, work and connect. Today’s youth are the leaders of tomorrow, the ones who will be at the forefront and contributing to the well-being of their communities when today’s leaders have passed on. Yet why are so many of today’s youth on a narrow and marginalized path to their future? Up to one in five youth in the United States experience a mental health challenge each year, and a whopping 70 percent of youth in juvenile justice institutions have some sort of disability. Youth with disabilities are falling through the cracks and constantly being overlooked where education and career building are concerned.

To ensure that today’s youth can flourish as active and productive participants in the workforce and leaders of tomorrow, it is our collective responsibility to ensure they are taught to lead productive lives and steer away from the path of violence and other at-risk behaviors. But with so much exposure to violence, bullying and inequities, many children today grow up surrounded by examples of at-risk behavior right from the start, often inevitably causing them to follow these examples.

We want today’s youth to be lifted up from the depths of marginalization and be front and center of our collective commitment to ensure that each youth lives to their full potential. We need to ensure that their voices are heard in policy discussions, advocacy initiatives and social programs. And we need to create and deliver services and support that are sustainable and meaningful in their lives.

We are inviting proposals from relevant stakeholders, organizations and individuals. With the goals of empowering young people to be prime participants in their future and highlighting positive and sustainable solutions for the challenges youth face, we hope to have a robust dialogue at this year’s conference.

The topic committee is interested in the following proposals:

  • Youth-led initiatives and partnerships with young people with disabilities that maximize their advocacy reach and effectiveness on vital issues such as employment, education, sexuality and healthcare;
  • Best practices for securing roles in planning and implementing equal access to opportunities that will enable youth to achieve their full potential;
  • Best practices to reduce the multiple risk factors that can lead youth off course and on the path towards detention, prison and even death;
  • Innovative models for educational systems and strategies geared towards marginalized groups (e.g., risk factors include poverty, disability, gender, race and ethnicity);
  • Evidence-based practices and research that is solution oriented towards the many challenges youth face;
  • High impact sustainable strategies which reduce bullying in the schools and in the community;
  • Best practices that reduce educational inequality;
  • Best practices for supportive mental health services for all youth, not just those who meet governmental criteria;
  • Cultural and indigenous alternatives, which support youth with disabilities.

If you have a proposal that may not fit in to the above targets, we will welcome them as part of our discussion. We welcome proposals in any presentation format.

Please see presentation formats on our webpage at Please check the criteria for each format and ensure that you have the appropriate number of presenters for your chosen format. You may submit proposals online at: or send your proposals via email to

For more information about this topic area, please contact the Conference Team at For general information on the conference, please contact Charmaine Crockett at, (808) 956-7539. For registration questions please contact the registration desk at (808) 956-8816, fax (808) 956-4437 or email