According to data from the 2010 census, 35 percent of people with disabilities ages 16-64 were employed compared to 72 percent of those without disabilities.

The Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment is doing its part to combat this issue by hosting the 18th Annual Youth Leadership Forum. The Youth Leadership Forum is for students with disabilities who aspire to be, or already are, community and school leaders.

High school students with disabilities are encouraged to apply for the Youth Leadership Forum where they can hone their leadership skills. Applications are accepted through June 1.

“The program provides students with a chance to practice their leadership skills in a safe environment. The growth you see in these amazing individuals is phenomenal,” said Julie Peddy, YLF co-chairwoman.

Youth with disabilities are eligible to attend if they will be high school juniors and seniors as of July 1, 2018, if they are 2018 high school graduates, or if they are students 18-21 who are receiving transition services from their high schools. Students can apply even if they don’t receive services from their school districts.

The forum is taking place July 22-27 at The Evergreen State College in Olympia. The forum is free for students, and approximately 50 students with disabilities will attend.

Students interested in applying can download and fill out this application, or contact Elaine Stefanowicz by email at estefanowicz@esd.wa.gov, or phone at 360-902-9362.