This blog post was written by Kristin Humphrey, Mentoring Director, Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD), a member organization in the National Disability Mentoring Coalition.
As the 2015 year comes to an end, I have been reflecting on all that Partners for Youth with Disabilities’ (PYD) mentees have accomplished. Mentor Match is one of five PYD programs, and it pairs caring adult mentors with youth living with any kind of disability. Through these relationships, our youth get help reaching their personal, educational, and career goals. Our mentees range from age 6 through 24, and as such, our matches engage in a wide range of activities and goals together. Matches communicate a minimum of once a week via phone or email and meet for at least 4 to 6 hours a month for an in person activity. Together, our mentors and mentees work towards goals in the areas of healthy relationships, self-esteem, education/vocation, independent living and community involvement.
Throughout 2015, we had over 115 matches and our mentees have accomplished countless goals. In honor of PYD’s 30th anniversary, here are 30 experiences that PYD mentees had this year:
- Started college
- Consistently wore matching outfits with their mentor on activities
- Started a new job
- Got a red black belt in karate
- Completed a PYD fellowship
- Lead activities for the 25th ADA anniversary celebration
- Graduated college with Summa Cum Laude honors
- Saw a Red Sox game for the first time.
- Spearheaded a bowling fundraiser for PYD and raised nearly $2,000 for the program.
- Beat mentor in bowling
- Completed a resume with a mentor
- Attended a Boston Celtics game as a first match outing
- Competitively selected as a peer leader for the Massachusetts Youth Leadership Forum
- Passed Permit test
- Explored different animal ecologies, space facts, and interactive exhibits at the Boston Museum of Science
- Worked on computers together
- Ran the bases at Yankee stadium and FaceTimed with mentor at Patriots preseason game—-building a relationship with said mentor despite different preferences in sports teams.
- Raised money to fund a trip to Africa to go on a safari in January of 2016
- Worked on baking skills and discussed healthy life choices
- Made a new friend
- Learned yoga and created a stress action plan.
- Performed for a live audience at the Boston Center for the Arts
- Made a documentary
- Saw the Nutcracker Performance at the Boston Ballet
- Cooked food in an adaptive kitchen
- Learned CPR techniques for people with disabilities
- Introduced guest speakers
- Tried adaptive ice skating
- Won a toastmasters competition for writing and performing a hilarious speech.
- Played soccer with the New England Revolution team
This snapshot of our mentees’ 2015 year underscores the breadth and depth of ways in which a consistent, caring adult mentor can positively impact youth with disabilities. While every match is different, the mutual benefits mentors and mentees experience from their relationship is a common thread.
As the 2016 year approaches, I will end with a piece of advice from a PYD mentee:
I would like to encourage all of you to consider all the possibilities that are out there to positively impact someone else’s life. If all of us do just a little thing each day to make another human being feel good, the whole world would change for the better because the feelings of gratitude and love are very contagious and in no time we would be vibrating at a higher frequency.
About Partners for Youth with Disabilities: PYD‘s mission is to empower youth with disabilities to reach their full potential by providing transformative mentoring programs, youth development opportunities, and inclusion expertise. We motivate youth to reach their personal, educational, and career goals, and guide organizations in becoming more inclusive. We envision an inclusive global society in which youth with disabilities have the access, support, and confidence to achieve their full potential. We believe that youth with disabilities who are educated, mentored, and empowered have a profoundly positive impact on their communities and the world. Learn more about PYD at: www.pyd.org/about.php.
About the National Disability Mentoring Coalition: The mission of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) is to increase the awareness, quality and impact of mentoring for individuals with disabilities across the nation. Member organizations share core values and align with the Coalition’s objectives to streamline communication, standardize and systematize data collection, reduce duplication of efforts, increase mentoring opportunities, and improve outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities. Members include: American Association of People with Disabilities, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), Broad Futures, Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, D.C. Public Schools, Easter Seals, Institute for Educational Leadership, Keep the Music Playing, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, MENTOR: The National Partnership, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, National Council on Independent Living, Partners for Youth with Disabilities, PolicyWorks, Inc., The Viscardi Center, and United States Business Leadership Network. Learn more about the NDMC and its Members at: www.disabilitymentors.org.