In the Summer of 2022, Disability EmpowHer Network graduated our first class of EmpowHer Camp Young Leaders at a 100% graduation rate. Two weeks later, we started the journey again with a new group of Young Leaders and Mentors, and we've already seen incredible growth. Check out our Impact Reports to learn more about the growth journey of our Young Leaders and their Mentors.
EmpowHer Camp Class of 2022
Group photo of Young Leaders, mentors, and allies holding a purple Disability EmpowHer Network banner.
EmpowHer Camp - Class of 2022
Publicity: After a year of working on their inclusive emergency preparedness projects 6 of our Young Leaders were showcased for their projects and achievements, in blogs, local news articles, published magazine articles, and podcasts.
Future Leaders: Leadership skills reportedly shown the most growth among our Young Leaders. They also reported experiencing growth in communication, public speaking, and independent living skills.
Mentors Matter: EmpowHer camp has not only been life changing for our Young Leaders, but also for our mentors. Mentors have reported growth in patience, communication skills, leadership, and confidence.
Our EmpowHer Camp Class of 2022 began their journey in August 2021 when nine young women with disabilities from across the country came together to camp with nine successful disabled women mentors for one week in the Adirondacks. While camping, we learned survival, independent living, and leadership skills, and our Young Leaders went home paired with a mentor. Over the next year our Young Leaders worked on their community impact projects with help from their mentors, which they completed by June of 2022.
In July, the EmpowHer Camp Class of 2022 reunited in Washington D.C. for a week of learning, networking, and fun. Our Young Leaders participated in workshops on job interviews, resume writing, and even led Congressional visits! We had incredible guest speakers who shared their wisdom with us. Our Young Leaders shared about their community impact projects on Presentation Night to leaders and allies in the Disability Community, and later that week they also shared their projects with their Senators. It was not all work though; we also enjoyed visits to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, the International Spy Museum, several monuments, and the hotel's rooftop pool! At the end of the trip, our Young Leaders graduated from EmpowHer Camp, but not before revisiting the personal goals we set during our Adirondack camping trip and setting long term goals for the next 1, 3, 5, and 10 years.
Young Leader, Lily, talks with Anjali Forber-Pratt
Young Leaders, Opal and Maddie in the pool smiling and hugging.
EmpowHer camp is more than just a year long program - it's a connection for life!
"EmpowHer Camp was a gratifyingly wild ride. I'm so so glad I did it & I really hope I get to continue this journey with my girls. There were plenty of ups & downs but I wouldn't trade a thing for the end result of getting to see them rock the world." - Mentor Jill
"I’m so excited to continue my project independently, and I know I have a whole group of people who can support me and help me reach my goals. My mentor is incredible— I’ve gained my “person” for life!" - Young Leader Anja
What Comes Next?
While all of our participants graduated EmpowHer Camp, they continue to stay in touch with their mentors and friends, and are all members of the Disability EmpowHer Network.
As members, they are connected with past and present participants, mentors, and Disability EmpowHer Network connections. Our whole network supports each other in growing and reaching goals. Disability EmpowHer Network offers information and referrals for internships, employment, and higher education opportunities. We support our graduates for at least six years or following their graduation or until they are employed (whichever is later).
What People Are Saying
Participants: "My participation in EmpowHer camp has helped me become a more flexible, more independent, more confident person. My experience in Washington D.C. definitely helped me gain some independence and figure out what assistive technology works best for me."
Mentors: "My mentee was a completely different person in DC. Last year I watched her really struggle with communication or finding her connection with other people. This year, I watched her become a core part of the group. Her communication was awesome, she was funny, she was engaged and proud- she took control of situations and acted like a leader."
Parents: "My daughter has much more confidence in herself. She is able to advocate for herself and for what she needs. She was nervous to fly by herself but she knew what to do in the airport and if something went wrong on the plane. She talked with the flight attendants and with the people who sat with her."
EmpowHer Camp Class of 2023
Group photo of Young Leaders, mentors, and allies all wearing "Disabled Women Make History" hoodies.
EmpowHer Camp ADK Camping Trip- Class of 2023
Coast to Coast: Our second year of EmpowHer Camp has participants and mentors from 14 different states, ranging from Washington to Massachusetts and many in between!
100% Growth: 100% of our participants reported experiencing growth in at least 12 categories; including
self-advocacy, problem solving, & confidence! Parents have also seen growth, especially confidence since camp!
Communication: 100% of participants reported an increase in communication skills, both public speaking and communicating and socializing with peers.
Round two of EmpowHer Camp began in August 2022 with six Young Leaders with disabilities from across the country coming together to camp with successful disabled women mentors and allies for one week in the Adirondacks. Camping with this bunch included fun, learning, growth, and connecting. We learned survival, independent living, and leadership skills! Each Young Leader learned how to build a fire, meal prep and cooking, how to identify plants, emergency preparedness, and so much more. We worked together to help each other with tasks, discussed our goals, and developed new daily life skills. The fun included games, tie-dying, camp fire songs, dancing, and so much more.
Mentor Johileny & Young Leader Keira laugh.
Mentor Julia & Young Leader Giana make guacamole.
Even though Adirondacks camp has ended participants & mentors are connecting regularly! At camp, each Young Leader selected a mentor to work with for the next year. Young Leaders created a yearlong community impact project involving inclusive disaster strategies they learned at camp and they will work on their projects with help from their mentor. Participants and mentors connect regularly to talk about their projects, school, family, goals, college, future careers, life, and so much more!
What Comes Next?
Participants will continue to work on their community impact projects with the help of their mentors for another nine months. In July 2023, we will reunite in Washington, D.C. where the Young Leaders will present their projects, meet with Congress, practice resume writing and interview skills, and explore how they've grown as leaders! Then, in August of 2023, a new group of Young Leaders will begin their EmpowHer Camp journey by camping in the Adirondacks!
In Their Words
Young Leaders: "The most enjoyable part of the EmpowHer Camp journey has been learning about advocacy as well as life skills and independence."
Mentors: "Overall the camp was a life changing experience. Being around all disabled people and feeling seen and heard while simultaneously helping the next generation will forever be one of the greatest experiences of my life."
Parents: "She has been more eager to attempt transfers and catheterizing herself - both of which she was opposed to before camp. Also she has been a better listener and seems more thoughtful overall!"