NYRA Freedom

ISSN 1933-5229
Volume 8, Issue 7
August 15, 2008
Editors: Justin Graham and Lexi Johnson

Table of Contents

– Introduction
– NYRA’s Annual Meeting a Huge Success
– The Election Results Are In
– NYRA to Air TV Ads; Your Help Needed
– Make Your Chapter a Success!
– Coalition Advocates for Student Financial Aid
– NYRA Moves to New Office
– CAFETY Fights the Good Fight for Abused Teens
– Recent NYRA Blog Entries
– News from the Web
– Conclusion


With the annual meeting and the election behind us, NYRA is looking forward to a new year with a newly elected Board of Directors. This new board is in good position to lead NYRA above and beyond our progress in the past year and we will see even more successes. Additionally, our outreach efforts are making a giant leap with the coming airing of NYRA’s very first TV ad. NYRA continues to partner with other youth-driven organizations such as the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY) and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) to achieve greater rights for young people. And the progress made by NYRA chapters just keeps coming. This is a good time to be a youth rights advocate, but the greatest victories are yet to come.

NYRA’s Annual Meeting a Huge Success

This month NYRA held its annual meeting at its offices in Washington, DC, and it was by all measures a great success. This year’s meeting had the biggest turnout ever, with an estimated 30 people in attendance. Good times were had by all, with good food, amazing people, and some great presentations and workshops.
The ACLU of the National Capital Area screened portions of the film “Busted” and held a discussion about how young people can protect their rights when dealing with the police. NYRA member Julian Gutierrez led a discussion of youth rights philosophy and talking points. Brian Lombrowski, Kat Whitehead, and others from the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth discussed how to protect the rights of youth who are abused in the behavior modification industry (and get paid for it too). Youth Venture educated those in attendance about how they can get up to $1000 for their NYRA chapter or other youth project. NYRA Vice President Chip Sinton showed off his public speaking abilities while teaching the rest of us how to do the same to effectively articulate our positions. An organizer from Students for a Democratic Society held a workshop on how to effectively organize for youth activism. Mobilize outlined ten steps for effective advocacy. Civil libertarian Chuck Thomas led a fascinating discussion on the principles of non-coercive parenting and how we can raise children in a pro-youth-rights environment. NYRA board member Yonaton Yares gave us some tips and advice on dealing with the news media.
And, of course, our executive director Alex Koroknay-Palicz presented the organization’s annual report. The annual report is full of detailed information about the progress NYRA has made in the past year in several areas, including fundraising, media exposure, legislative successes and chapter activity, and looks ahead to what we can expect moving forward to 2008-2009. Want to read about how we and our partners at CAFETY achieved victory with the passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of a bill to regulate behavior modification facilities? Interested in the strides NYRA has made in fundraising in the last year? Find out all that and more by downloading the 2008 annual report at: http://www.youthrights.org/forums/downloads.php?do=file&id=164
Those who came to the meeting also had a youth rights cookout at our fearless executive director’s house after Saturday’s conferences. Attendees had the opportunity to vote in this year’s annual election in person, and were the first in the country to hear the results of the election. Thanks to everyone who came and participated for making this year’s annual meeting a great success, and the best yet.

The Election Results Are In

Voting in this year’s annual election is complete, and the results have been announced! The membership chose a new Board of Directors, a new slogan for NYRA, and voted on changes to the organization’s mission statement and bylaws. Voting began on July 3 and lasted for a month until the annual meeting on August 2; voting in the election was open to all paying members of NYRA. In all, 80 of you helped chart the course of NYRA over the next year by voting. This kind of high participation is good for the future of NYRA.
With so many qualified candidates this year, choosing a board of only nine was a difficult task for voters. In the end, incumbents Alex Koroknay-Palicz, Keith Mandell, Katrina Moncure, Stefan Muller, Chip Sinton and Yonaton Yares won re-election, and they will be joined by three newcomers: Justin Graham has co-edited NYRA Freedom since February 2008; Jason Kende has been an active NYRA member for years, serving on the Board of Directors from 2003-2004, helping to design and build the NYRA website, and organizing youth rights activism in New York City; and Eric Kim is the president of NYRA-Bergen County, fighting for the rights of youth in New Jersey, including recently desegregating a local McDonalds.
Even though former board members Alex Hull-Richter, Jessica Roeder, and Adam Zarnowski will not be on the Board of Directors this year, they all plan to continue making contributions to the cause of youth. Alex Hull-Richter remains very active in his work with the California Democratic Party, and Jessica Roeder plans to start a new NYRA chapter at Ohio State University.
Additionally, NYRA now has a new slogan (Live Free, Start Young), and changes to the mission statement and bylaws were approved by the membership. The mission statement was changed to better reflect what NYRA really does to further youth rights and to emphasize the importance of chapters, and the bylaws were amended to specify when annual elections are to take place and that chapters are legal entities separate from the national organization.
Thank you to all the candidates who put time and effort into their campaigns, and congratulations to the winners. Thanks also go to all of you who made your voice heard by voting. We have a busy and doubtless very productive year ahead of us, and NYRA is in good hands.

NYRA to Air TV Ads; Your Help Needed

NYRA and board member Keith Mandell are sponsoring “Make NYRA Famous,” a contest to see who can create the best NYRA TV ad. We are looking for talented, creative members and supporters to create our very first TV ad, which will be aired on Washington DC cable this fall on stations like CNN and MTV. The ad should focus on NYRA’s efforts to lower the voting age, and will air in time for the 2008 presidential elections. The best ad will receive a $100 prize and will air on TV this fall; all other quality ads will be published on NYRA’s website, YouTube, blogs, and elsewhere on the Internet.
To volunteer, or if you have any questions, please contact Keith at kmandell2000@yahoo.com. If you can’t shoot an ad yourself, you can still contribute to this exciting project by donating to NYRA (at http://www.youthrights.org/donate.php) so that the ad can run on more stations. We would like to receive all entries by August 25, to ensure that the best ad will air in October, before the election.

Make Your Chapter a Success!

NYRA of Southeast Florida has had amazing success recently in their campaign to lower Florida’s voting age. We contacted chapter president Jeff Nadel for this story and asked him how they were able to make such progress, and Jeff was very forthcoming with great advice for current and prospective chapters.
Jeff says that the most important ingredient to chapter success is the people at the core of the group. “Anyone can start a chapter,” he says, but emphasizes that it is extremely important to find people who are passionate. That you and all people involved in that chapter are well informed is crucial as well.
Once you have that, you can begin to make genuine change. Focusing on one issue will ensure that your chapter is not spread too thin.
To begin working toward your goal Jeff advises that chapters should start by gaining public credibility. NYRA of Southeast Florida did this through media coverage. In order to get coverage send press releases to local media. “Youth-rights issues are not often brought up, so if you can get their attention, most likely, they’ll be interested.” According to Jeff sending out press releases on a regular basis is key to getting coverage. You won’t get responses for every release, he says, but it is important to keep the organization fresh in the media’s mind. Also, try to build relationships with reporters that you meet; get their contact information after interviews and keep in touch.
And finally, when the time is right, meet with legislators or other decision-makers about implementing the change that you’re looking for. The time is different for every issue, but it will come. When it does, Jeff advises that in the meeting you should remain “passionate and professional” and make sure you dress to impress.
Following this strategy, NYRA of Southeast Florida will surely continue to find success. Jeff and his chapter have held several meetings so far and are looking for new members. Anyone in Southeast Florida who is interested should contact Jeff Nadel at jeff@16tovote.org.

Coalition Advocates for Student Financial Aid

NYRA’s partners at Students for Sensible Drug Policy are at the forefront of the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform, or CHEAR, of which NYRA is a member. CHEAR members advocate for the repeal of a provision of the Higher Education Act that strips financial aid for college from students with drug convictions. In 1998, the Higher Education Act was amended with the Aid Elimination Penalty, prohibiting students who have been convicted of drug offenses from receiving financial aid.
SSDP and other youth-driven organizations have been fighting to repeal this provision for a decade, and gradual progress is being made. The goal this year was to achieve full repeal of the Aid Elimination Penalty. Though that has not yet happened, SSDP, with the help of NYRA and many other Coalition members, has won the addition of some positive language in this year’s reauthorization bill. The bill makes it easier for students with drug convictions to get their financial aid back early by passing drug tests; it requires colleges and universities to notify their students of the aid penalty and how they can get their financial aid back; and it requires the Department of Education to do a much more thorough job statistically tracking who is victimized by the aid penalty, which will help in future advocacy.
This may be a small step forward for students, but more is to come. NYRA looks forward to continued cooperation and coordination with our friends and allies at SSDP, and other CHEAR partners, to protect the right of students to financial aid.

NYRA Moves to New Office

If all the activity of the past month wasn’t enough, NYRA has moved to a new office! After the annual meeting was over and most people had gone home, NYRA staff and volunteers helped move all our equipment to our new offices. In an office swap with another organization, Atlas Service Corps, NYRA got a bigger office for lower rent (the trade-off for the other organization is that they now get to share space with their partner, Mobilize.org), which will save us money as we move forward.

CAFETY Fights the Good Fight for Abused Teens

Among the presenters at this year’s annual meeting were leaders from the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth. CAFETY is a youth organization that takes a stand against abusive treatment of young people at behavior modification facilities, or “gulag schools,” across the country. CAFETY’s aim is to ensure the voices of abused youth are heard loud and clear, and they have certainly been doing that with their support of the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in June by a vote of 318-103. CAFETY has not yet received 501(c)(3) non-profit status as NYRA has, and NYRA is currently their fiscal sponsor, so if you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation to CAFETY, please earmark the funds for that purpose when donating to NYRA. You can also visit their website at www.cafety.org.

Recent NYRA Blog Entries

The Answer to Immaturity?
News from the Web

— NYRA-Related News —
Driving limits are roadmap to teen frustration
City touts results as teen curfew approaches anniversary
Kids can hang up hanging out at mall
Teens still don’t buy mall rule 1 year later

— Other News —
Vote now, or forever hold your peace
Parents liable for teen drinking
8 year old guitar wiz has reason to play the blues
’21 for 21′ isn’t uncommon
Move On To Drop Drinking Age To 18
Former child workers describe perilous environment
Face-to-face wine sales required before going on Web
Sky’s the Limit for 5-Year-Old Hiker
Sikh Teen Wins Discrimination Claim
Are Chinese gymnasts too young for Olympics?
Convention split on rollback of drinking age
Some schools turn back energy drinks
“Vanishing” colour gives school girls a chance to beat ban on nail varnish
School Says Forget About Friending Teacher
Mount Miguel High School Student Accuses Teacher Of Assault
Young, Gay and Murdered
Security guard and three police officers interrogated grammar girl
17 arrested on charges of underage drinking at PNC Center concert
Native American beliefs clash with rural district’s dress code
The real mistake in ‘teen pregnancy’
Germany Ponders Giving Children the Right to Vote
House of lies: Is fibbing to your kids ever OK?
US school rebuked for ibuprofen strip search
One year later, mall curfew still gets mixed reactions


This is a time of change and progress for NYRA. We have a new Board of Directors that will lead us into the future, and a new slogan and mission statement. NYRA has acquired a new, better office. Our budget is bigger than ever before, and our greatest legislative victories ever have come in the past year. We’re about to reach out into a whole new territory with our first TV ad. But what has not changed is our passion and drive to work for the rights of youth by empowering young people to advocate on their own behalf. NYRA’s resolve has been strengthened by our recent victories and progress, but we continue to need your help to ensure that the youth of tomorrow live in a freer world than we do today. Donate to NYRA, start or join a chapter, create a quality TV ad to air before the presidential election. Get involved today to work for a better future.