Youth Leadership Forum
By Fanisee Bias
My name is Fanisee Bias and I am a second-year college student attending the University of San Diego. I grew up in Boise, Idaho where I feel most at home and where my activism and involvement started!
My activism developed when I was diagnosed with a spinal disease called Transverse Myelitis; I had to learn how to advocate for myself and my disability which made me passionate about advocating for others. Throughout junior high and high school, I became involved in clubs, volunteering, and work that unleashed my passions for social justice, advocacy, and working with others! I try to engage in a lot of different opportunities which is why I applied to YLF as soon as I heard about it.
Since I identify as a young leader with a disability, I knew this was the opportunity for me. I had never been to a forum, conference, or even an event that centered on youth with disabilities, so I was nervous yet excited to build community and new friendships. As soon as I walked through the door with my two canes and a backpack, the YLF staff was so welcoming and supportive. I met my roommate who had a similar disability as me which helped me fit right in.
Throughout the forum, I was able to learn a lot of “adulting” things (which is what I call them) like budgeting, money management, saving, goals for my future, how my disability may connect with my career, and, most importantly to me, how to create authentic connections and supportive spaces for leaders with disabilities like me.
I grew so close to all of the staff and participants which is what motivated me to continue my passion for disability justice and bringing awareness to our community. As I attend my university and any other space I encounter, accessibility and accommodations are always at the forefront of what I expect from others.
I created a student organization on campus call the Alliance of Disability Advocates; I attended APRIL which lead me to the new opportunity of being Vice-Chair for their Youth Steering Committee; and I have and will continue to do side projects that uplift people with disabilities and create more awareness to disability justice. I was also recently selected to be an intern for the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) this summer in Washington, D.C.
All of these opportunities motivate me to continue to do the work that I do and fight for my communities. This year I have a lot planned for the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and I hope you do too!