Tuesday, November 1, 2011

We're going to Colombia!

The country, not the city in Missouri...

I am more than excited to present at the 2nd Annual International Association of Volunteer Efforts, World Youth Summit in Barranquilla, Colombia!

This conference brings people from volunteer initiatives and organizations around the world together to learn from experts about the key components of leading volunteer efforts. Focused on youth volunteerism for those with disabilities, the objective of this workshop is to provide international organizations seeking to establish new or expand existing volunteer programs a new target population in which to recruit. While highlighting effective volunteer programs that are targeting people with disabilities in the United States, this presentation is designed to encourage the recruitment of young adult volunteers with disabilities abroad. It is also its intention to help decrease barriers and enhance the international volunteer experience. Seven keys areas will be explored:

1) A Youthful Perspective of Volunteering Abroad: Voluntourism 101
2) Recruiting Volunteers with Disabilities
3) Where to Begin
4) What Every Organization Should Know Before You Begin
5) Successfully Navigating the Needs of Volunteers with Disabilities
6) From the Perspective of the Volunteer – What’s In It for Me!
7) How to Begin Your International Volunteer Program Targeting Young Adults with Disabilities

Sounds intense, right?

I was told today that I am a loud voice for people who are often quiet, so I think this presentation gives a voice to what many people need to know. It is my hope that people learn more than just the seven points of discussion, and instead leave with a new understanding of the contributions that people who are different can make. If you want to make a difference in your community, here's where to start:

You have a responsibility to advocate for the communities in which you represent. As an African American with a disability, I advocate for both people with disabilities and African Americans. So if you ever want to stand behind a cause, you must first stand behind yourself and who you represent. Once you advocate effectively for yourself, you can be a more effective voice for others. There are easy ways to get involved and make a difference, as not everything needs to be world-changing or brilliantly thought-provoking.

Start small...

When thinking about the areas of intervention for positive change, I believe there are three key areas to consider: the individual, the community, and the government. How can you as an individual make a positive impact? How can your community cultivate positive change? How can we influence policy to encourage positive outcomes?

Give some thought to those questions and tell me what you come up with. I'll be challenging my audience in Colombia with the same questions and I'll be sure to share their thoughts with you.

It still amazing me that we're going on this journey! If you want to find out more information on this conference, I encourage you to visit www.partners.net. In the meantime, just remember that even a small change can make a huge impact.

I'm jumping on the plane in 4 hours, so my next post will be from the Colombia!


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