Empowering Youth With Disabilities
Dedication to service
All are welcome
Ivana Kirola founded Empowering Youth with Disabilities (EYD) in October 2007. The project brings adult mentors with disabilities into San Francisco public middle and high schools to work with students with disabilities. The result: Students’ academic performance improves, they gain social skills and they become more enthusiastic about relating to others with disabilities.
In their weekly visits to the classrooms, mentors explore how to make the students’ educational experiences more rewarding, connecting with them on whatever level they learn at, regardless of their disability — mobility, intellectual, developmental, hearing, speech, visual and others. The project also encourages the participation of mentors with all types of disabilities.
Since EYD began, 22 mentors have worked with 50 students in three middle schools and two high schools. Most of the students use computers for communication, and mentors generally work one-on-one with students. The work is mutually beneficial: As students gain self-esteem and become more engaged in their learning environments, mentors experience a boost in their self-confidence and improve their work skills. A stipend of $100 per semester adds to mentors’ sense of productivity.
Empowering Youth with Disabilities is a fiscally sponsored project of San Francisco Study Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides community projects with administrative support.
A mentor’s perspective
“July 16, 2018, was the last day for me at Mission High School for the summer. I enjoyed the summer session. I read the book ‘Creepy Pair of Underwear’ to two combined classes. Tom Duffy at our library is always very helpful in getting me books for the class. In Room 225, it is a joy to see a staff so devoted to making the students the first priority.” — Iona Lawhorn, EYD Project Mentor