Youth Advocates for Change

RAISE is committed to modeling and promoting the power of youth voice. In 2021 RAISE will be establishing a Youth Advisory Council, called Youth Advocates for Change or YAFC. The YAFC will be a youth lead, youth driven council. That will give expert insight and support to RAISE and the RSA-PTIs to ensure meaningful youth engagement. 

Structure and Goals of the YAFC 

Each RSA PTI will identify 1 young adult (age 16-26) in their region to be part of the YAFC.

The goals of the YAFC are: 

  • Hold regular virtual meetings to talk about the goals and progress of the YAFC.
  • Make products that support the goals of the technical assistance provided by the RAISE Center. Examples of this will be webinars, toolkits, or one-pagers.
  • Take part in the RAISE Advisory Partnership meetings
  • Attend the RAISE Summit and provide a youth focused presentation. 
  • Create youth focused social media presence
  • Provide feedback on products that are made by RAISE and the RSA PTI’s that are for youth and families. 

Meet the Members of the YAFC

Carly Dolan

Carly Dolan

Atif Deen

Atif Deen

Erin Thury Thomson

Erin Thury Thomson

Carly Dolan

Carly Dolan is currently a student at John Tyler community college, where she is studying liberal arts and communication. She enjoys being around her family and friends. Carly loves to learn new things and explore the world around her. She has been participating in many leadership and youth advocacy programs in Virginia, including Youth Leadership Academy (YLA), Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC), National Fragile X Foundation conferences (NFXF Conferences), The Arc of VA (YLA Alumni) and Youth Advisory Council (YAC). Carly has a passion for photography and is committed to impacting people. Her dream job would be to be an advocate for people with disabilities of all ages and be a public speaker so that she can educate people on her unique disability.

Atif Deen

Atif lives in Valley Stream, New York. Atif recently graduated from Long Beach Highschool where he excelled in both academics as well as worksite experiences. In addition to his work with the RAISE Center, Atif serves as a Co-chair on Youth As Self Advocates (YASA) advisory board.  YASA is a project through Family Voices National.  YASA is an active organization which represents the voice of individuals with disabilities, educates communities, and advises families of those with disabilities. Atif participates in various outreach programs to help youth become stronger advocates for themselves as well as connecting different agencies to work together to best serve the individual’s needs. Atif loves helping individuals with disabilities navigate all areas of need including social, academic, and work-related issues. Atif hopes to work full time in an advocacy position so he can spend as much time doing what he is passionate about. 

Erin Thury Thomson

Erin lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota while working as a communications and social media specialist. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arizona where she covered a social justice beat, collaborated with their well-known DRC, and did a fellowship with Arizona Daily Star to produce a mobile application for people with disabilities. Advocacy for the disabled community as well as other marginalized groups is at the center of her work and her education outside of school. Currently, she is working toward her master’s in Digital Audience Strategy from Arizona State University to earn a full-time position in the fast paced digital world. In her spare time she makes handmade jewelry to show disabled hands can make beautiful things (@RolledClay).

RAISE Youth Engagement Toolkit Series

Looking for some help with engaging youth in the programs, services, or day to day operations of your parent center? Take a look at this series of youth engagement toolkits that were written and reviewed by young adults! 

  1. Youth Engagement Toolkit for Parent Centers
  2. Youth Development Toolkit for Parent Centers
  3. Youth Leadership Toolkit for Parent Centers
  4. Toolkit on Youth Collective Empowerment