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Youth Ambassador Program

The Youth Ambassador Program is a national program designed to train promising young members of Narcolepsy Network to advocate for people with narcolepsy. Youth Ambassadors learn how to be leaders and representatives of NN all while building friendships to last a lifetime.

Each Youth Ambassador (YA) is active in their community – making presentations to their schools, holding fundraisers for NN, writing their government representatives telling them how legislative changes can affect their healthcare, just to name a few examples.

Questions about the program can be emailed to [email protected].


We are now accepting applications for the Youth Ambassador Program for the 2018-2019 school year.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be between the ages of 15 and 22 during the 2018-2019 school year
  • Commit to reading training materials prior to attending training
  • Be willing to speak in public, give presentations, and share your story
  • Be a member of Narcolepsy Network

Additionally, each Youth Ambassador (YA) is expected to complete at least three advocacy activities. Some examples include:

  • Present to a group of ten or more people (through school, support group, religious organization, etc).
  • Hold one community fundraiser for NN (car wash, walk, bake sale, etc.).
  • Attend an advocacy event and publish one article about it.
  • Create one piece of art/poetry/journal entry and share it online.

Training for the YA Program will take place on Friday, October 5, 2018 from 9:00 AM-5:30 PM at the Westin Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana (before the start of the Annual Conference). There is a $99 fee for all participants in the program. Each YA will be responsible for travel and hotel expenses. Lunch will be provided on the day of training. Scholarships are available.

To read more about the requirements of the Youth Ambassador Program or to apply online, please see this linkApplications must be submitted online by September 8, 2018. Acceptance to the program will be based on availability. Applicants under 18 years old must also have a parent or legal guardian submit this form. All applicants will be notified of their acceptance to the program by September 15, 2018. Questions about the program can be emailed to Sharon O’Shaughnessy or Keith Harper.


Meet our 2017-2018 Youth Ambassadors!

Sofia is a junior in high school and lives in Miami Beach. She has embraced the fact that she has narcolepsy. She suffered for a long time after she was diagnosed in 2013, but has since learned to live with it and not be ashamed. Sofia says, “As cliche as it sounds, it has made me the person I am today and serves as motivation to be successful in whatever it is I want to do. I find joy in educating people about the condition, and getting them to understand how it affects those who have it, on a personal level.” Sofia got involved with the YA program because she wants to start a student advocacy program at her school for people with “invisible” learning disabilities such as this one. It took Sofia nearly two years to get 504 accommodations which only happened because lawyers got involved. Unfortunately, this resulted in her falling behind in school, and teachers thought she was just staying up too late at night.
Grace is 15 years old and lives in Houston, TX. Narcolepsy makes life super hard, especially because so many people don’t know about or understand it. It’s important to educate people about narcolepsy because they can’t help if they have no idea what’s happening! That’s one of the many reasons why she is excited and honored to be a Youth Ambassador. She says, “I can’t wait to learn how to effectively educate and raise awareness about narcolepsy. It means so much to know (despite how sleepy and small I may be compared to the rest of the world) even I can make a difference!”
Rachel is 18 and lives in Virginia Beach, VA. She has type 2 Narcolepsy and was diagnosed in May of 2015. She says, “I’m excited to be a Youth Ambassador this year because I learned a lot from the experiences of YAs last year. I am excited to share what I have learned to help other people as well.”
Kyla is a 14-year-old freshman from Woodstock, Illinois. Kyla enjoys performing in musicals and plays, shopping, and spending time with her friends. Kyla was diagnosed with narcolepsy in August of 2015. She has an aunt and a younger sister who were also diagnosed. Being a part of a family where narcolepsy is common has helped Kyla feel understood. Kyla looks forward to helping people understand what narcolepsy looks like in real life as she steps into the role of Youth Ambassador!
McKenna is a sixteen-year-old sophomore at Cy-Fair High School in Cypress, Texas. McKenna was first misdiagnosed with sleep apnea. After four years of using a CPAP machine, she was correctly diagnosed with narcolepsy at age twelve. She has been playing recreational, competitive, and high school softball for ten years. McKenna recently made the varsity softball team for the second year in a row. In addition to athletics, she is a member of the National Latin Society and received Cum Laude Honors on the National Latin Exam. McKenna is enrolled in upper level and Advanced Placement classes and excels in her studies, earning Honor Roll. After graduation, she plans to attend Texas A&M University and go on to pursue a law degree. McKenna is a passionate and spirited young woman, determined to leave the world a better place
Daria is a 16-year-old senior at Baldwin High School in New York. Daria hopes to attend Morgan State University in the fall of 2018, to pursue a degree in architecture. She enjoys dancing, baking, and listening to music. Her artistic talents earned her an induction into the National Art Honor Society. As a Girl Scout, Daria received her Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can ear. Daria completed a project on bringing an awareness to narcolepsy by educating her community on signs and symptoms as well as offering tools and strategies to help students to thrive. She is running for Senior President and organized “Senior Beach Day.” Daria spends her free time volunteering with her girl scout troop, at churches, hospitals, community events, giving out food, clothing, and spreading joy.
Grace is 16 years old and a junior in high school. She lives in a small town in Kentucky. She was diagnosed with narcolepsy at age 9 and have learned many things about this disorder since then. She says, “I am excited to be a Youth Ambassador because I want to help other children with narcolepsy. I am looking forward to sharing my story and educating others in my community and beyond.”
Madeline is 18 years old and resides in Wichita, Kansas where she attends Wichita State University. She is involved with her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, as well as with the Lupus Foundation and is thrilled to be chosen as an advocate for narcolepsy. She was diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy in June 2016 but have suffered from symptoms since she was ten years old. Madeline was diagnosed with lupus December 2016 and they discovered the narcolepsy while trying to diagnose her lupus. She says, “I thought being constantly exhausted was normal and now that I know it is not, I’m am so excited to turn this diagnosis into something positive by being a Narcolepsy Network Youth Ambassador!”
Tori is 17 years old and lives in Jacksonville, Florida. She was diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy in May of 2015 and since then her life has been completely different. After being diagnosed, she had a much better understanding of why she fell asleep all the time and was able to receive help. School had always been very difficult for me and now that she knew that there was something wrong, she could explain it to her teachers so they’d know she had a problem. Tori had previously had teachers belittle and ridicule her in class and now she was able to show them that she was a good student and that she did care about my education. She says, “In many ways, my diagnosis saved my academic life. I am excited to become a part the Youth Ambassador program because it will provide me with resources and opportunities that I might not receive otherwise. This program will help to enable me to grow as an advocate for myself and other people with narcolepsy in my community. I know that I had a hard time finding resources and information near me and I’d love to be able to help others in that area as much as I can.”
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