Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

Group of alumni gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
Global alumni of the FLEX and YES high school exchange programs gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC before meeting with representatives from their host states’ congressional delegations.

It is never too late (or too early) to celebrate the Americans with Disabilities Act!  In April 2024, 31 young activists with diverse disabilities, all alumni of the FLEX and YES Exchange Programs, convened in Washington D.C. in honor of the ADA. These young leaders arrived ready to exchange experiences and build skills in promoting inclusion of people with disabilities through media.

Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX): https://www.discoverflex.org/

Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES): https://www.yesprograms.org/

FLEX and YES Global Leadership Forum on Disabilities

A behind the scenes photo of FLEX and YES alumni seated in front of computers and working on their podcasts as a workshop staff member stands behind them.
A behind the scenes photo of FLEX and YES alumni seated in front of computers and working on their podcasts as a workshop staff member stands behind them.

The FLEX and YES Global Leadership Forum on Disabilities: Media for Inclusion Workshop was originally planned to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the signing of the ADA, but was delayed by COVID. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the workshop focused on storytelling, leadership, disability rights and creating fully accessible media.

Experienced FLEX and YES alumni served as workshop mentors.  These included a fierce blind advocate for accessibility from the Republic of Georgia; a well-known social media influencer with a physical disability from Kyrgyzstan, and a Deaf campaigner for voting rights from Mali.

The Forum offered invaluable opportunities for these young leaders to network, make connections and share ideas.  During four intense days of script writing, video filming, podcast recording and exploring accessibility features, alumni shared their advocacy experiences and the continuing impact of their FLEX and YES experiences.

A Reunion for MIUSA

MIUSA provided technical support to American Councils for International Education, the organization responsible for the workshop, to ensure disability-related access.  MIUSA also arranged for a podcasting and video expert to join workshop sessions to demonstrate how to ensure the videos and podcasts created during the workshop were accessible to all.

The Forum was a reunion for MIUSA too!  We have a long history of working with the FLEX and YES Exchange Programs to support the full inclusion of students with diverse disabilities.

We were thrilled to re-unite with these young leaders, who are also alumni of MIUSA’s FLEX and YES arrival workshops.

For More Information

For additional information about MIUSA’s work with the FLEX and YES Programs, click here.

There is still time to volunteer to host an amazing FLEX and YES student with a disability!  Students with disabilities will be arriving in the U.S. in August for the MIUSA Preparatory Workshop.  If you (or someone you know) might be interested in hosting a future leader and activist with a disability, please click here.

Read more about four of the alumni who were selected for the Media for Inclusion Workshop:

https://www.miusa.org/blog/tanmay-india-yes/

Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

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