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“Getting youth and emerging leaders involved in self-advocacy, peer mentoring and other activities that will improve the quality of life for youth and emerging leaders with disabilities in the state of Florida.”

Alexander Gonzalez
-Lead FYC Member

The Annual Youth Summit

The Annual Florida Youth Summit began with a simple idea. Why not bring together youth and emerging leaders with disabilities for a two day event where they could network, learn, and have fun? The Annual Youth Summit would provide a unique environment where this could take place. Like our parent organization, The Family Cafe, The Florida Youth Council has always believed that well-informed people make the best possible decisions for themselves. Our Annual Youth Summit provides the opportunity to put that principle into action.

October Noodle Cover

New Publications Every Month!

Check our monthly publication called The Noodle! It’s got everything you need from important news to stories from our council members that will uplift you.

Need Help With Your IEP?

We’ve got you covered! This invaluable manual will give you all the information you need to successfully navigate your IEP and more!

Take the World by Storm!

This publication contains a collection of poems, short stories, thoughts and more by our very own Florida Youth Council! Purchase your copy of our book today! Make sure to note in the paypal transaction screen that the purchase is for the Take the World by Storm Book.

The Council

Serena Wetmore

Hi! My name is Serena Wetmore and I live in Jacksonville. I am currently going to college to pursue a degree in psychology. When I was in high school, I was inspired by my psychology class and interactions with many autistic students and decided to combine these two passions. I hope one day to be a psychologist who works with kids with autism. In my free time, I enjoy video games on my iPad, especially RPGs, as well as watching YouTube. I wish I could actually play the games instead of just watching videos of other people playing them, but because of my cerebral palsy, I can’t actually work the complicated controllers, so I made my own accommodation. Another activity I have enjoyed is joining my student government. I get to help plan events at the college, and have found that it is a good way to help influence the perception of disability on campus.

John Howard

I am John Howard and I live in Leon and Franklin Counties. I have been part of the Florida Youth Council since 2018, and I love being a member of the FYC!! I graduated in 2020 from Tallahassee Community College with an Employment Credential in the Humanities track. Since 2019, I have worked at Hands and Hearts for Horses, a therapeutic riding stable located in Thomasville, Georgia. I am a barn assistant and mend fences, clean stalls, clean and refill water buckets, patrol trails, feed goats, and volunteer with therapeutic riding lessons. I also have my own horse, “19,” stabled at Lazy Triangle D Ranch. My future goal is to be a barn manager and/or a horse trainer. My interests are riding horses, shooting pool, working on my laptop, playing the piano, harmonica, and guitar, and driving my car. I like to swim and bike on St. George Island and I also frequently ski and hike in Canada.

Alexander Gonzalez

Hello, my name is Alexander Gonzalez and I am the Lead Member of the Florida Youth Council. I am 24 years old and I’m from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I am currently working on my Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at Polk State College. As of right now, I am currently working as a disability rights advocate. As a leader of this organization, I will help provide leadership and advocacy for people in the disability community around the state. When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. I didn’t understand what Autism was or how it would impact my life. I did struggle in school in reading, writing, and proper communication. My teachers at the time didn’t understand how to work with a student like me. In the end, with all the hardships and limitations, I didn’t let my disability define who I am. Before I joined the FYC, I volunteered at a food pantry at a local Catholic church and volunteered at Special Olympics. I love playing video games, live streaming, and talking about sports. I do live broadcasts from time to time about anything from current events or sports. My dream is to one day write and direct a feature film and put it on the big screen. 

Brandon White

Hi my name is Brandon, and for the past three years I have been a part of west ports military program known as JROTC. My mom, sister and I went Family Cafe meet at the Hyatt, which was one of the most fun educational experiences I’ve had outside of school. My goal is to not only learn more about how i can help thoughts with disabilities but also gain knowledge to help others throughout my life in the military. The reason I decided to join the FYC is to widen my knowledge on disability awareness along with how to help those with disabilities. My goal after high school is to go into the military. I will most likely go into the Airforce because it hits many of the key points that I find interesting. Sadly that means I will have to leave the FYC to pursue my dream of making a career of the Airforce. My overall goal of being a part of the FYC is to help as many people as I possibly can in any possible way before I leave for the military. When I’m in the military and I come across someone with a disability I want to know how to help them the very best I can and I believe the Family Cafe is the best place for me to learn how I can help people.

Leah Gorman

Hi, my name is Leah Gorman, I joined the Florida Youth Council to empower youth to stand up and say no to the people who are trying to get in their way because of their disabilities. Also, I love to read and do others things. I also spread the word about disability advocacy to the doctors in my community, and they are spreading it to their child patients with disabilities.

Dakota Smoot

Hi there! I am Dakota Smoot and I am 26 years old. I love sports and my friends. I’m a poet, a songwriter, and a gamer. My favorite shows are Naruto and Bleach. I also love trains! I live in Jacksonville, Florida on the north side. I attended Edward H. White High School as a post-graduate student. Now I am a GED graduate in the Class of 2019 from Florida State College at Jacksonville, and I am to returning to FSCJ in September 2020 to resume my education in hopes of getting my AA degree in education. While I may look like the average person, I’m not! I have epilepsy, but you can’t tell by looking at me. I look forward to seeing new people every day and making more friends. I have been on the council since May 30, 2015, and I’m happy to be a part of this amazing family.

Derek Carraway

My name is Derek, and I’m from Tallahassee. I’ve been a member of the FYC since November 2010 and I love it! Currently, I’m our lead alumni member.  I enjoy going camping, going to the beach, going to church, listening to country music, and spending time with my family and friends. I like watching TV, especially sit-coms and college football broadcasts. I bleed garnet and gold. I graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Information Technology and now currently work full-time at my alma mater in their IT Services department. I’m also newly married and I’m enjoying every second of married life with my beautiful bride!  In addition to being on the Florida Youth Council, I volunteer in the media department at my church and lead my church’s scout group, the Royal Rangers. My involvement in all of these things keeps me quite busy these days, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It allows me to continue to grow as a leader, and shows others that I don’t let my disabilities stop me from doing anything I want to do!

JJ Humphrey

Hi Everyone! I’m JJ, an actor, singer, and high school student from Central Florida. I became an FYC member in 2020 during the pandemic. Acceptance and inclusion are very important to me, and are something for which I advocate!! In my free time I play video games, fish, swim, and go to theme parks. I’m a huge Star Wars fan!! I love being an actor in DramaTime Live, where we go to second grade classrooms to teach the art of storytelling through drama. I also really love helping with Out of the Box, a theatre troupe with unique abilities! I really enjoy acting on camera, on stage, and in voice over! I’m Burt in the web series School Bus Diaries. I hope to use my voice to help others.

Shevie Barnes

My name is Shavaughn Barnes and I am from Jacksonville FL. I have been a part of the Florida Youth Council for seven years. I have been a part of the disability community for life. I was born with cerebral palsy and this has been the driving force for my disability advocacy. In 2018, I was named Ms. Wheelchair Florida. This gave me the ability to take my journey into the disability world more seriously. I was given a platform to share my concerns with the world. I chose to use that to educate the world on how it is to live as a person with a disability. As my life goes on, I want to continue the work of educating those who want to learn about what life is like. The Florida Youth Council is part of my journey and I want to continue to have that family of friends. I want to be a part of the group who is able to help others as well. The Florida Youth Council is a way to be a part of change in the world. As part of the Council, you not only get a chance to lead, but you learn how to fight for what you want as well.  

Emma Massey

Hi, I am Emma Massey, a high school senior and dual enrolled student at a local college. Looking to the future, my goal is to attend college. My major is still not definite, but I am narrowing down my options. My older brother is leaving for college this fall, so I will get to experience life as an only child. Spending time with my friends and family and cuddling with my cat are my favorite activities. Since joining the FYC a few months ago, I am learning how to advocate for myself and others. Hopefully, people will understand that even though disabilities may limit me, I can do anything I put my mind to.

Josue Tapia

Hello my name Josue Tapia and I currently live in Orlando Florida. I enjoy playing video games, reading history books and playing with my dog. I work at Petco as an assistant groomer working with dogs. I think I’m the only bilingual member on the council and the only Hispanic at that. Its fun to have that out the box opinion. I’ve been on the council for about 7 years and its been a great experience for me. I’ve met many people going through different paths of life with different disabilities and I heard their stories of triumph and hard work. I’ve enjoyed my years on the FYC and I hope to have many more making a difference.

Christina Waldron

Christina resides in Saint Petersburg, Florida.  She has been a member of the Florida Youth Council since 2012.  She also participates in Solar Flair, a local rock band created through ProjectFREE’s music program.  She does theater performances with the Rising Starz Theater group annually.  Christina also makes her own artwork, which she sells online and at local community events. In addition, she coaches in a bowling league for people with disabilities.  She has been working as the Altar Server and teaching Faith Formation classes at Most Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church of Gulfport, FL for the last 10 years.

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