The ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E. was created in June 2009 in response to students with disabilities and their parents and teachers who requested ongoing participation with ATOU. The group began with approximately 12 youth members. Since then, the group has grown to more than 200 members who participate monthly in Youth F.O.R.C.E. activities, and help with ATOU school and service club presentations, leadership training and community events .
The mission of the Youth F.O.R.C.E. is “To make a difference, and to have fun doing it.” The goals of the Youth F.O.R.C.E. are to:
- Bring youth with and without disabilities together to share in fun, educational and character-building activities
- Provide opportunities and encourage youth to take responsibility for leadership and planning of group and community activities
- Foster bonds of friendship between youth of all levels of ability
- Encourage respect for and inclusion of persons with disabilities
Youth F.O.R.C.E. activities are planned and executed by a cadre of 12 to 15 youth members, with the guidance of an adult mentor. This “core group”, as they are called, are volunteers from the group at large, and rotate leadership responsibilities on a monthly and annual basis. Monthly activities conducted by the Youth F.O.R.C.E. typically draw an average of 75 attendees. The Youth F.O.R.C.E. is, for some of these children, the first time they personally experience full inclusion.
Examples of activities held in the past year are: Holiday parties, lake days, art nights, movie nights and Dreams to Goals event.
ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E. High School Clubs
The ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E. Club is a club on a high school campus. It was started at Granite Bay High School and is expanding to other schools. It is student-led, and supported by ATOU.
Mission Statement: The ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E. High School Club has three main objectives: to bring disability-awareness education to the students on campus, to create a more inclusive community, and support the ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E. through volunteerism and funding. We accomplish these objectives by hosting Wednesdays Lunch Buddies, decorating for Youth F.O.R.C.E. events, and participating in community outreach events in the Greater Sacramento Area.
The ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E. Clubs are unique in that they are connected to both the school community and the ATOU Family. The club has a board consisting of elected students, a school advisory, and ATOU advisor, and members. In May of each school year, the club elects new officers. Each officer serves for one year, starting and ending in May. A summary of officer responsibilities is available upon request.