The Eye-to-Eye mentoring program has effectively formed an outlet for elementary and middle school students diagnosed with ADHD to reach maximum success academically.
The mentoring program, which began with five college students from Brown University in 1998, targets students with learning disabilities and ADHD. Now Eye-to-Eye has grown to have 120 chapters throughout the United States, where the college students host weekly art rooms with the elementary and middle school students, and developed a summer camp, where mentors help mentees build life skills.
One of the founding five students that attended Brown University, David Flink, obtained an admissions position at his alma mater upon graduation. As soon as he accessed his old student email, he took advantage of the opportunity to email other Brown University students about continuing Project Eye-to-Eye. He eventually received emails back from other schools who began their own chapters of the mentoring program
Fayetteville State sophomore, Yazmin Jones, was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 8 and is one of the two chapter leaders for Eye-to-Eye here on campus. The FSU students attend Reid Ross Classical Middle School to mentor the students and assist with projects.
“Right now, we have art room and the projects help the students to use their brain a little more and help them embrace having a learning disability,” Jones shared.
The mission of Eye-to-Eye is to improve the life of every person with a learning disability. That mission applies to both their mentors and mentees.
An Eye-to-Eye study reports that 90% of the mentors strongly agree that the program helped them to think differently about their strengths. Studies also show that for the mentees, 85% felt better about themselves after working with a mentor from the program.
Eye-to-Eye mentee, Josh, enjoys his mentor Ryan because they have so much in common including their love for sports. Most importantly, they both have ADHD.
“It’s a really friendly place. You’re going to have a big mentor who’s really friendly,” Josh said.
Being diagnosed with ADHD is not only an issue that children must grow up and tackle, but it is something that parents of those children must handle, too.
Lauren, the mother of Eye-to-Eye Mentee Will, watched her son deal with the differences after being diagnosed as a child. As a mom of a diagnosed child and being around other children with the disability in the program, she’s listened to their feelings about the mentors. She shared that the kids believed that, “it’s so nice to just know when you walk in that room, everyone understands.” For the younger students, nothing helps to ease the difficulties with learning disabilities than sharing time with older mentors who knows their experiences.
“The kids do feel comfortable,” explained Lauren, as she spoke about Will and the students experiences with ADHD and the program.
According to Mayo Clinic, ADHD is a chronic condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Those who are diagnosed may have a tough time controlling their impulses and trouble paying attention. The disorder is common in children.
Eye-to-Eye states that government estimates indicate that up to 20% of the US population has learning disabilities or ADHD. It can be found in every age group, socioeconomic category, race, gender and sexual orientation.