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Group of self advocates pose for photo in the hotel
YAI self advocates attend the first in-person SANYS conference since 2019.

Self advocates from across YAI attended the SANYS Conference, which was in-person for the first time since 2019, in Albany late last month.  

The statewide conference held on October 26-28 consisted of educational sessions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as knowing your sexual rights and speaking to representatives about topics that impact the community. YAI sponsored a group of self advocates from every region to attend the conference.  

“They loved it because the group is such a tight-knit community and have grown close over the years through day programs and getting to know one another,” said Bridget Butler, a YAI Behavior Intervention Specialist who was among several staff members who went on the trip. “It was really cool that the Bronx self advocates went to sexual rights sessions. The sessions highlighted how to protect yourself, understanding you have the right to say no and change your mind, and learning about consent.” 

In addition to the educational sessions, the group enjoyed a dance party and a movie night at the Mariott Hotel where the conference was held.  

“These kinds of social events are usually more accessible to neurotypical people, and it doesn’t always feel like people we support have the same opportunitites, so it was really nice to see them have a blast at the conference while also learning and advocating for the issues that matter to them,” said Butler. “It was a really nice getaway they could enjoy and I hope we can do more of these in the future.”