RU students use art to mentor local children

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The organization Eye to Eye is an art-based mentoring program that matches high school and college students with elementary students who have learning disabilities, dyslexia and ADHD. The organization has 57 chapters across the country.

The local chapter matches Radford students with elementary students from Prices Fork Elementary School to do art projects together with the goal of building self-esteem. It allows the children to be creative while learning about themselves with the help of older students who have dealt with some of the same issues.

The elementary students are between third and fifth grades because this is the age that is important to reach students and to give them a higher self-esteem while giving them role models to look up to for help.

David Morabito, Program Coordinator, said that the motive of Eye to Eye is, “(to) support the kids with their disabilities and showing them that it isn’t something that they need to hide.”

Eye to Eye also promotes self-advocacy so that the children know that someone else has experienced some of the same issues that they are and that are able to overcome them make it to college.

National Program and Alumni Coordinator, Katie Long, stated that Eye to Eye wants, “(to) create a world where all learners are able to learn in a supportive environment.”

They do art because there are no rules or restrictions to what people can create. The Eye to Eye art rooms are a safe place to create art and express each students’ uniqueness.

The art rooms are every Friday afternoons from 3:30 to 4:30. The first thing that they do is take the children to the gym in the school in order to allow them to play after sitting in classrooms all day.

The mentors then introduce the project that they will be working on that week and, if time allows, the children are encouraged to present their art. An example of a specific project that they have done was creating a diorama of a classroom that each of the students felt they could learn the best in.

The mentors are a group of students on campus from all types of different majors that feel it is important to help younger students get through what they had to go through. It is also a great way to give back to the local community.

“As someone who mentored for Eye to Eye, the most important thing is for people to feel safe and comfortable within their ADHD/LD and that they can achieve anything they put their mind to,” Long stated.

Mentors for Eye to Eye must be open about their own learning disabilities. This helps inspire the mentees to be open with theirs as well.

Many of the mentors feel that they helped build confidence in the younger students while also helping with their own confidence and understanding their own strengths.

“It’s important to know that there are kids out there that need our attention and that we’ve made differences in kids’ lives,” Morabito said.