Our Disability and Mental Health Summits have always been successful due to our great partnerships with school districts, non-profits, and other government agencies. In particular this year we are deeply thankful to our three program partners who have helped set up such a dynamic program:
The PEAL Center
The mission of the PEAL Center is to ensure that children, youth, and adults with disabilities and special health care needs lead rich, active lives and participate as full members of their schools and communities by providing training, information, parent leadership, and technical assistance based on best practices to individuals and families and all people who support them.
The PEAL Center staff provide three key services: individual assistance and referral service for parents and professionals to help identify needed resources and assistance; training to ensure parents understand and can navigate the education, health care, insurance, and home and community service systems and have knowledge of best practices; and provide leadership development skills and training to parents.
21 & Able- United Way
As part of their smart investments and comprehensive plan to help people with disabilities live independently, United Way’s 21 & Able initiative helps young adults with disabilities transition smoothly from the last day of high school to the first day of adult life and beyond. 21 & Able is increasing employment and housing opportunities and supports so that young adults with disabilities have greater independence.
In the past 18 months, hundreds of people with disabilities and their families have benefitted from the opportunities for information, education and advocacy provided by United Way’s 21 & Able initiative.
Pittsburgh Youth Leadership Taskforce (PYLT)
Pittsburgh Youth Leadership Taskforce (PYLT) is a youth-driven organization that works to empower young people with disabilities to develop the skills andresources necessary to become leaders of the future—now. PYLT is an organization that began in the fall of 2015 as a think tank partnership between staff at the Pittsburgh Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania and Point Park University. This group of professionals recognized that the Pittsburgh region was in need of a local platform for youth with disabilities that promotes leadership, advocacy and independence. The PYLT steering committee is working diligently and strategically to build the foundation of this organization to provide emerging youth leaders with the tools and resources necessary to drive its continued development. The objective is for PYLT’s groundwork to be as solid as possible to enable this platform to be lasting and effective in our region. Moving forward, the goal is to offer youth the opportunity to identify their own interests and needs, plan events, and be able to operate this organization. The steering committee will continue to act as consultants and mentors as these youth develop into leaders of the future. If you have any questions or have an interest in becoming a part of the PYLT steering committee, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 412-632-1878.
Allegheny Family Network
Allegheny Family Network (AFN) is a family-run agency – all of our employees are parents or caregivers who have raised a child with mental health and/or emotional challenges. Our staff (Family Support Partners) have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the areas of mental health and behavioral challenges. They not only understand family and children’s rights but also know how and when to advocate on behalf of children with special needs. Our Family Support Partners not only understand what families are going through but use their personal experiences and expertise to support, inform, and empower families that are working to bring about positive change for their own children.
Each Summit takes months of planning and development. This year’s full program would not have been as polished without the assistance of the following organizations on our planning committee:
ACHIEVA, Allegheny County Council, Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Allegheny Family Network, Autism Society, Chartiers Center, The Education Law Center, Every Child, Inc., Goodwill, Keystone Oaks School District, Kurt Kondrich, Kaitlyn Brennan, Life Enrichment Trust, Mt. Lebanon School District, Bethel Park School District, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Outreach Teen & Family Services, Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), Port Authority of Allegheny County, Watson Institute, and Wesley Spectrum.
In addition, we could not have done this without the overwhelming support of the Beth El Congregation. They have graciously welcomed us with open arms for three years now have never said “no” to anything that could possibly be of assistance to an individual with a disability or a mental health diagnosis. From their members, to their leaders, to their invaluable staff- we can have no greater partner and thank them very much for hosting us!
Beth El Congregation of the South Hills
Beth El is a Modern Conservative congregation that strives to provide value beyond the life cycle needs of their members in a manner consistent with their Conservative ideals. They are committed to many inclusionary practices and carry the spirit of inclusion throughout their building and community. Their mission is to provide the opportunity for full inclusion and participation of all people regardless of behavioral, emotional, cognitive or physical ability, in all areas of Beth El Congregation’s religious, spiritual, and communal life.
I would like to thank Mt. Lebanon resident and long-time community volunteer Joe Polk who, as owner of Thirteen Ball, donated his time to help us with our website. Joe’s assistance was invaluable in allowing us to get more information out and for our seamless online registration feature. I deeply appreciate Joe sharing his time and expertise and greatly appreciate how he has helped us help others. Thanks Joe!