NCLD Introduces the Young Adult Leadership Council

“Nothing About Us Without Us”

I find myself saying this countless times as I work on NCLD’s Young Adult initiatives. Too often, important decisions are made for people, not with people.

In an effort to change this dynamic, NCLD is bringing together young leaders with learning and attention issues so they can gain knowledge and experience that will empower them to engage their voices and change how our system works for the 1 in 5 with learning and attention issues. Our first initiative in this new program area is the Young Adult Leadership Council, which launched in 2018 with 10 fearless young leaders. This month, we brought together a cohort of 25 young leaders ages 18 to 26 from across the country, and brought them to Washington, D.C., for NCLD’s Young Adult Leadership Council Orientation.

The orientation was an inspiring and fun kick-off to a year of action. Programming included policy and advocacy training, shared learning between the council members, and leadership and communications training.

In almost every session, council members told stories of hurt and how they faced stigma in school and in the workforce. I saw the vulnerability in their eyes.

As I listened to them sharing their stories, I thought of the time I told my mom “I will never learn to read” as I watched my classmates learn to read so quickly while I still struggled. I thought of the time when a school counselor said I no longer needed an Individualized Education Program because my grades were “too good.” She did not understand that my accommodations were a large part of my success. The experiences our young adult leaders shared paralleled my own in so many ways.

Within these stories of hurt and vulnerability, I also heard them talk about triumph and success. They learned how to self-advocate, use their support network, and understand their strengths.

“There will always be adversaries in life. You have to continue to fight for yourself, love yourself and educate those around you” Hailey Jerome, Young Adult Leadership Council Member

Understanding the vulnerability and strength in each of them, I became overwhelmed with gratitude for the time and commitment the council members made to be part of this council and to speak out in support of others. It takes great courage to speak about personal experiences to make change for others.

I am grateful for the council members, and anyone who uses their voice and energy to be an advocate. I am excited to be a small part of lifting their voices to make change.

Advocacy is one voice speaking for many” —Lia Beatty, Young Adult Leadership Council Member

Over the next year, the council members will inform the direction of NCLD’s policy and programs. And they’ll serve as ambassadors with the media and policymakers to highlight important policy and practice issues that impact the education and career pathways of children and young adults with learning and attention issues.

Click here to learn more about the Young Adult Leadership Council.

How can you be a voice for the 1 in 5?
NCLD hopes to encourage collective action that improves the lives of those living with learning and attention issues. You can join this movement of incredible people by attending a town hall or by setting up a meeting with your representative’s district office. I cannot wait to see what we accomplish this year. If you are a young adult with a learning and attention issue, consider joining the Young Adult Leadership Council next year, and stay connected to our programming throughout the year.

I believe we all need to work together to make an impact, because all students deserve a fair education.” —Alyssia Jackson, Young Adult Leadership Council Member

Not ready to be an advocate quite yet? Learn more about the issues facing individuals with learning and attention issues here.