YLAT Training & Skill Building

Throughout each YLAT year, young people are offered the opportunity to attend a variety of trainings to deepen their skills and increase their knowledge in the areas of public speaking, sharing their story, and advocacy. YLAT works closely with OCFS’s Transition Worker’s to identify the training and skill building topics to focus on each year.

YLAT training have focused on supporting participants in learning how to share their stories in a way that is safe and effective, known as strategic sharing, and to assist participants in learning how to advocate for themselves in decisions that impact their lives.

In addition to training, strategies and tools are also provided to increase youth’s participation and confidence related to these areas. At monthly YLAT groups, skill building is built into the content of the meeting, and young people are provided the opportunity to practice these skills through participation in group activities and discussions. This is a chance for youth to increase their skills outside of annual training.  The annual Teen Conference offers another opportunity for youth to deepen their skills and be exposed to valuable resources and tools to assist them in their daily lives.

Strategic Sharing


What is it?

Strategic sharing is a framework and a tool for how to share your personal experiences and stories in a way that is meaningful, respectful, and safe—both for you and for the people (audience) hearing your story. Ideally, sharing your personal experiences can educate, influence, inspire and make a difference to those you share with. When thinking about what you want to share, three strategies will help you be effective and safe when doing so: Choose, Claim, and Connect.

Are there any risks?

Talking about our personal experiences carries some risks. Sharing can leave us exposed and can sometimes make our listeners uncomfortable.

Self-disclosure (or sharing information about yourself) is a lot like clothing- too much can make us sweaty and uncomfortable while too little can leave us vulnerable and unprotected. Think about how we choose what to wear. We dress to be comfortable with ourselves and around other people. We dress to present ourselves a certain way, and we usually are more comfortable when we’re dressed for the occasion—meaning that we fit in with the way everyone else is dressed. If we dress differently from others, we want that to be our choice. Have you ever had the experience of arriving dressed up at an event you thought was formal only to find everyone else in shorts and jeans, or the other way around? Likewise, we share information in order to present ourselves to fit in comfortably with other people. We’re usually most comfortable when the level of self-disclosure is balanced. Sometimes when we share to educate, inform, and influence, the self-disclosure is not balanced and it can feel like showing up wearing the wrong clothes.

When strategic sharing goes wrong, it can feel manipulative or exploitative and lead to harmful consequences. It’s about making good choices about how we tell our life stories so that our voices can be heard, our message is effective, and our well-being is protected. Learn more about Advocating for Yourself.

Youth Leadership Advisory Team (YLAT)

YLAT is a joint project between Maine’s Youth in Foster Care, The Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and the Muskie School at University of Southern Maine. YLAT is committed to improving the short-term and long-term outcomes for youth who are or have been in foster care.

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YLAT, Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine, PO Box 9300, Portland, ME 04104-9300, phone: 207-780-5861