Through the coordination of Pennsylvania’s 13 cyber schools and the Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network, the first ever virtual chapter of PYLN has been born! Connecting 50+ students from 13 different schools from all across the state from Erie to Philadelphia, PYLN hopes to connect cyber charter school students with their individual communities to build their service learning, leadership, and self-advocacy skills.
The opportunity for PYLN to expand and include groups such as the new cyber affiliate chapter can occur thanks to the help of a grant called the Leadership Development in Schools Project from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council.
“For example, say there are five students in the Lehigh Valley who attend five separate cyber schools,” said Everett Deibler, founding member of the PYLN Governing Board. “We want to connect them through PYLN and empower them to go out in their community and make a difference.”
Ms. Bruecks a Special Educator / Transition Coordinator at AHCCS is the main adult ally behind the cyber chapter. Ms. Bruecks attended the annual PA Community on Transition Conference last summer and formed a bond with representatives of PYLN since she was familiar with the work they have done. At the conference the idea to start a cyber chapter was born.
But, instead of just starting a chapter at AHCCS, they thought bigger. Close to 40,000 students are enrolled in Pennsylvania’s 13 cyber schools – why not open the idea up to each and every one of them?
“I want to join the Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network, because I want to be a part of something positive,” said Shamir G, AHCCS student from Philadelphia. “I want to be able to express myself in a respectful manner, and let my voice be heard by many. I have a lot of dreams, and I just want to do as much as I can, and finally feel good about my accomplishments.”
Over the years PLYN has progressed and the governing board introduced a new mission: to coordinate a network that is led and driven by inclusive organizations of youth and young adults with and without disabilities across Pennsylvania. PYLN promotes advocacy, self-determination, leadership, empowerment, and service learning in the areas of transition, employment, education, and community engagement.
Anna R., AHCCS student from Perkasie wants to be a part of PYLN because “I have always had an interest in social advocacy and working together to create positive change. I would love to be a part of a group with like-minded people who share the same passion.”
Starting this month, members of the cyber PYLN chapter will meet monthly to discuss how they can develop leadership opportunities in their own community. Want more info on how you can join PYLN? Fill out this survey to learn more!