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A Quarterly Publication Produced BY & FOR NC Youth with Disabilities


By Billy Pickens

ECAC Youth Outreach Coordinator

How The Power of Openness Can Open Doors

One of the most frequent questions I have been asked as it pertains to my job as ECAC's Youth Outreach Coordinator has to do with what I love most about my position? I could highlight many aspects of my work including having the privilege of sharing the youth voice with community leaders, working on projects that aim to improve the lives of youth with disabilities and so many other amazing endeavors. However, while these are all responsibilities I am honored to be a part

of, the aspect of my job I find most impactful are the sharing of stories between myself and the youth I encounter.

Read more>


By Mayia Warren

Self-Advocate, YAT Member

Opportunities With Self-Advocacy

After 23 years of living with an invisible disability, one thing has become clearer to me. Self-Advocacy is essential to accessing able-bodied environments and resources. I would even argue that self-advocacy precedes accommodation and accessibility. The result yields the obtainment of those two things, but advocating for oneself opens doors to disrupting the very institutions and spaces we enter. We become educators and access points to understanding the nuance of the world we live in with regards to disability and even chronic illness.

Read more>

YEP's NCGT column is here to put a spotlight on the many talents and abilities of NC Youth & Young Adults with Disabilities ages 5 to 25. The format of submissions can be a poem, artwork, blog, video, song, essay, article, presentation, an "About me" story, a feature for our "Entrepreneur's Corner", you name it! Selected entries receive a $25 Visa Gift Card!

We were blown away by the entries received for our most recent Talent Search! We were excited to have so many excellent submissions from talented and diverse self-advocates across the state. This made the final selection process extremely difficult for the judges, who are also youth with disabilities. In celebration of YEP's one year anniversary, we have decided to feature and award all of the entrants as they are all deserving of recognition for sharing their amazing abilities.

Note: ECAC does not own the rights to any of the music submitted by YEP entrants.

Check Out Our October Winners Below!

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Kathryn R

2nd Grader

Wake County

Kathryn shares: I painted myself. It's called Self-Portrait. I used new painting techniques and it was fun.

Garland W.

College Student

Cleveland County

Garland shares: My dream is a song about my mom.

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Harrison G

3rd Grader

Durham County

Harrison shares: MRI! I like to write poetry because it makes me and others laugh. It also makes me happy and I can laugh at situations. Click here for larger version of Harrison's poem.


Hannah C

12th Grader

Iredell County

Hannah shares: I paint to raise money for Rett Cure. This is one of my paintings titled "Whisper Your Wish" and is dedicated to my dad who died in 2019 of colon cancer. I see yellow butterflies everywhere I go and yellow was my dad's favorite color. I know God sends "messengers" to bring us comfort here on Earth. I hope it touches many people."

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Francisco D

12th Grader

Alexander County

Francisco shares: I have started my own business called "Doodle Cruz." One of my favorite things to do is draw my artwork on pots. I really like Halloween and I hope this pot can be featured in the next issue of YEP to get people in the spooky mood.

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Sarena K

Age 23

Wake County

Sarena shares: I would hope to be featured in the next issue of YEP because people think people with disabilities are limited, but we are not. Imagination is unlimited. Also I think that what my painting does for me such as this idyllic scene with mountains and lavender, is open my imagination. It does not stop, it keeps growing.


Ty'Rez H.

12th Grader

Cleveland County

Ty'Rez's teacher shares: Ty'Rez loves to draw. It is his passion. Last year, Ty'Rez told his mom that he wanted to create action figures. She remembers telling him to go for it! Little did she know that her encouragement would spark the development of San Dan, along with other characters who morph into Action Figures. Without any assistance, Ty'Rez drew the pictures and researched a program that would animate his creations. Mom was amazed to find the following videos when she viewed his YouTube account!


Jade S.

5th Grader

Perquimans County

Jade shares: "I am sharing a picture of me with my drawing of Jack Skeleton, Sallie and Zero from Nightmare Before Christmas and me with my Halloween pumpkin cat sidewalk art. Drawing helps calm me. I just like to share my artwork.

Poseidon V.

2nd Grader

Onslow County

Poseidon shares: His incredible dancing skills! Dancing should be featured because it transcends to all people of all abilities.

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Jayceon A.

First Grader

Pasquotank County

Jayceon shares: (Dry erase marker on white board.) "The Animal Show" - you can see a bunny, octopus, jellyfish, puffer fish, turtle, snake, monkey, lion, elephant, mouse, any, caterpillar, chameleon, gorilla, giraffe, bear, horse, tiger, butterfly bee and bird - All of them!

Marik V.

6th Grader

Durham County

Marik shares: I want to sing "You Belong with Me" by Taylor Swift, and I am singing it to everyone because you guys belong with me


Kaleb P.

7th Grader

Person County

Kaleb shares: I sent in some of my drawings. I started drawing when I had to be in the hospital a lot and now its like therapy for me.

Jesus C.

10th Grader

Columbus County

Jesus shares: I want to show that I am more than a diagnosis and I am a young man with dreams and ideas. I'm very talented and smart.


Daniel G.

12th Grader

Guilford County

Daniel submitted his digital artwork which he describes as: "A nervous pupper. He has the social anxieties. He wants to be featured so he can win a prize (he's never won anything before) He will get chips and tacos with the gift card money."

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Evan M.

11th Grader

New Hanover County

Evan shares: Here is a video of me playing the piano. I want everyone to see me do what makes me happy.


Jeremiah R.

6th Grader

Pitt County

Jeremiah shares a video of himself in his very own "Unique Without Limits" band. Against all odds, he can do what everyone else does even if its done differently.

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Jonah S.


Camden County

Jonah shares: I created this ship by carving balsa wood, adding dowels for masts, paper sails and string as rigging. I love ships, pirates and fishing too!


College Student

Cleveland County

BJ shares: A video of myself singing a song titled "Clouds".

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Matthew J.

Age 23

Mecklenburg County

Matthew shares: I want people to read my autism awareness essay to understand what people on the autism spectrum go through. I want to prove that what we have is not a disease, but a neurological developmental disorder and that even though we may behave differently than people without autism, we're still as every bit human as them.

Click here to read Matthew's Essay


Payten L.

10th Grader

Columbus County

Payten shares: I submitted a dance video from my hip hop class. I have taken dance for 12 years.


Jeremy A.

College Student

Mecklenburg County

Jeremy shares: I have the ability to form figures with Lego pieces. I would like to be a Lego artist and I would like my talent to be known. I also like music and I can play the drums.


Lucia R & Matthew S

Age 25 and 24

Orange & Wake Counties

Lucia shares: My boyfriend and I wanted to get to know each other better so we signed up for ballroom dancing.

Matthew shares: My girlfriend and I have been taking ballroom dancing lessons at Fred Astaire for a year and are preparing for our 2nd showcase. We have learned so much.


Samuel H.

11th Grader

Wilkes County

Samuel shares: I sent a beatboxing video. I hope it will be featured in YEP because I am self-taught and hope to be a professional beat boxer someday.

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Tyvaun C.

9th Grader

Forsyth County

Tyvaun's teacher shares: Our school believes Tyvaun is a talented young man. He has a real gift. Tyvaun has an amazing and unique talent of making characters out of paper. He often finds a picture and meticulously cuts out pieces of paper to put together to create his characters. He demonstrates great fine motor skill control. His characters are very detailed.

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Naomi R.


Wake County

Naomi shares: "It's Ariel jumping. See the water and the tree?"

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Sean S.

9th Grader

Pasquotank County

Sean shares: "Drill" Sean says he likes to create art with repeated patterns. He likes working in 3D, doing puzzles, and coloring mandalas.

Caspian W.


Onslow County

Caspian's talent is his super fast running skills. He may not be able to do what others his age can, but he sure can run! Running should be featured as its the closest to flying and freedom for some folks with intellectual disabilities.

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Levi R.

2nd Grader

Wilkes County

Levi's teacher shares: Levi is a talented musician who can play multiple instruments and sing beautifully. One of his favorite instruments is the keyboard. Levi aspires to be a professional musician when he grows up. Levi would like to be featured in the next issue so that the world can see how talented he already is, as a 8 year old. Levi learns to play the instruments by hearing the songs first and then playing them. He does not currently read music.


Eli A.

11th Grader

Iredell County

Eli shares that he enjoys powerlifting with Special Olympics and plays the piano. He is a member of Youth Leadership - Iredell and is an autism advocate. He submitted his artwork and a picture of him with his service dog, Fergie. "I recognize my needs and work diligently to build on my strengths."


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Views Expressed Disclaimer

ECAC is providing this newsletter as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the ECAC. The views expressed by guest writers, speakers and artists are their own and their appearance in YEP does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views, thoughts and opinions expressed by YEP contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the view of ECAC or any of its staff.

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