Last year, the University installed a chapter of Project Eye to Eye, which will continue this year. Eye to Eye is the only national program that pairs secondary school students who are diagnosed as learning disabled (LD) and with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with college student mentors who either personally experienced or had family members who experienced similar health conditions.
Project Eye to Eye was founded at Brown University in 1998, and since that time several chapters of this organization have formed at universities and schools in the United States. The University’s chapter was started by Jeremy Snyder ’13 and Julie Platt ’12 in September, 2011.
The main objective of Project Eye to Eye is to create a full-fledged support system for LD/ADHD middle school students and to help them realize both their academic and creative potential by communicating with older students who had similar experiences while growing up.
Emily Moody ’15 and Ariel Jacobson ’15 now serve as the student coordinators for the program. Associate Dean for Student Academic Resources Scott Backer has also provided the chapter with some assistance. According to Backer, however, this is a solely student-run initiative on campus.
“One of the reasons this program is good is because it is coordinated by students,” Backer said. “It’s not something we force them to participate in; they choose to instead.”
Students visit the Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Middletown a few times each month and interact with LD/ADHD students. In contrast to many other mentoring programs, Project Eye to Eye does not focus on tutoring and academics. Instead, the group places emphasis on the students’ communication skills, happiness, comfort, and the ability to overcome what they are going through. As alternatives to conducting academic pursuits, mentors direct creative activities, such as arts and crafts.
“It’s just so much fun doing art with these kids,” Jacobson said. “We don’t tutor them; instead, we just communicate with them and help them [grow].”
Both Moody and Jacobson said the program showed great feedback, and they cited a survey given out to participating students.
“We got very positive results last year,” Moody said. “We also saw how comfortable the kids were with us, which was great.”
The student coordinators and Backer are planning to keep Project Eye to Eye running at the University and hope to expand its membership. In addition, Moody and Jacobson want to continue their friendships and relationships with their mentees.
“Wesleyan students develop mentoring relationships so that the younger students can learn skills in managing their diagnoses and just learn how to deal with it,” Backer said. “They can see how an older student is managing. Seeing that someone older is successful at a place like Wesleyan shows them there is a bright future for anybody regardless of how they [currently feel].”
To learn more about Project Eye to Eye, attend the information session on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 5:30 p.m. in Usdan 110 or visit www.eyetoeyenational.org.