ECU Chapter of Eye to Eye Mentoring Program Kicks off a New Year
Late on Friday afternoons, the Project STEPP office is quieter than usual. Watching a group of students leave around 3:15, you might assume they’re rushing off to start the weekend early. However, for these ten Pirates, this mass exodus leads two blocks down the street to a community center where they’ll spend the next hour and a half elbow-deep in paint, glitter, glue, or construction paper while chatting with a child about topics including school, goals, families, sports, and most importantly, the challenges and triumphs of being a student with a learning disability and/or ADHD.
Now in its second year on ECU’s campus, Eye to Eye is a “national mentoring movement pairing kids with learning disabilities (LD) and ADHD with similarly labeled college students."1 The program aims to build self-esteem, self-advocacy, and meta-cognitive skills in young students by fostering relationships with positive role models. Mentors implement Eye to Eye’s art-based curriculum as a basis for helping their mentees develop their strengths and discuss their challenges.
This year, the ECU chapter of Eye to Eye, under the leadership of Student Coordinator Lee Olson, has partnered with Building Hope Community Life Center’s After-School Program. After participating in training conducted by Katie Long, a Program Coordinator with the Eye to Eye national office and the ECU chapter liaison, mentors from ECU began working with fourth- and fifth-grade mentees in early November.
The projects this group creates blend fun explorations of the artistic medium with serious discussions related to school, life, and disabilities. With the mentors’ guidance, the mentees kicked off the year by creating an “Art Room Constitution” outlining the expectations they would hold each other to during their weekly meetings. Guidelines included “be respectful,” “be kind,” and “clean up after yourself,” with “have fun” topping the list. The first art project of the semester involved creating a “Community Tree” composed of “individuality leaves” made by each mentee and mentor. Another activity included decorating clay pots with symbols representing the mentee’s strengths and challenges in school. The group closed out the fall semester by working on a “spread your wings” project, in which each mentee designed and built a bird, rocket, or airplane. Attached to the front and back of each student’s winged creation were strips of paper listing some of their accomplishments and future goals.
The spring semester will bring many more art projects and great conversations between mentors and mentees. The year will culminate with an Art Show, where mentees will invite their families to come view their art projects and celebrate all they have accomplished this year. In the meantime, everyone involved with the ECU chapter of Eye to Eye continues to look forward to wrapping up each week at the Friday afternoon Art Rooms.
1Eye to Eye Mentor Recruitment Brochure, 2012