It all started in Madrid, Spain when three delegates from the United States, represented NAD at the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section camp. One of those delegates was a passionate woman named Melissa Malzkuhn from Fremont, California. After being elected as the Secretary of the WFD Youth Section, Melissa could not sleep on the train ride to her next location. She talked all night with her younger sister, Megan, about deaf youth organizations in other countries and that there were none in America. Upon her return to America, Melissa immediately stepped up to the plate and pulled together a committee of key players. Some members were actively involved with NAD, and some were not, but all intended to see through the birth of Deaf Youth USA. NAD immediately acknowledged the need for a deaf youth organization. With their support and energy, Melissa set up a liaison with NAD to start building the foundation of DYUSA.
There was no turning back, for throughout the years, within the deaf community here in the US, there always has been a gap for participation in the 18-30 age range, and its urgency has grown. The first step for Melissa was comprehensive planning for the first ever camping event for deaf youth in America (18-30ish range, in following the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section models). The DYUSA Camp, only 17 miles away from New Orleans, was held from July 3-7th. Fifty-nine people showed up, from ages 18 to 36 years old, more females than males, from different regions all over the country. They each brought amazing enthusiasm towards a better world for deaf youth and the rest of deaf community.
The NAD board made an appearance during DYUSA this summer, including NAD President Bobbie Beth Scoggins, NAD Vice President Christopher Wagner, NAD Chief Executive Officer Nancy Bloch, and the NAD Director of Youth Programs Jennifer Yost Ortiz. This gave DYUSA campers the opportunity to have an open and transparent discourse on the NAD, its structure, and their efforts to work with the deaf youth in the past, and why they need DYUSA. President Bobbie Beth Scoggins remarked: “It was a meeting of great minds, an awesome opportunity to leaern of common goals we can both pursue together to empower Deaf Youth of America!”
At the end of the camp, DYUSA formed several vital goals for the following year: membership drives, organizational laws, overhaul of media and website development, planning next year’s camping event for next year, and most importantly, to inspire all deaf youth in America. The board was also elected, coined as Team DYUSA, with Megan Malzkuhn at the head as the Executive Director. Her team includes Lizzie Sorkin as General Secretariat, Ryan Commerson as Media Director, organizational Director Bekah Guerrero, Events Director Erica Hossler, Financial Director Jon Leach, Camp Director Bregitt Jimenez, and two Members-at-Large Stacy Nowak and Jesse Jones. Deaf Youth USA’s mission statement is as thus: DYUSA promotes social justice through media and activism. For more information, ask anyone wearing DYUSA t-shirts or check the website, http://www.dyusa.org.