Building a Stronger Future: Celebrating the Impact of Eye to Eyes Young Adult Guiding Coalition
Being given the opportunity to be a part of YAGC as an alumni felt like a beautiful invitation to come home. Not only was I returning to a space that fundamentally changed me starting at the age of 15, but I was getting the chance to see how far it's come since I was last involved, and to contribute to its ever growing mission. I've felt so fulfilled in being able to offer my background as a professional visual artist to my role as Committee Chair of Near Peer mentoring. Developing a beginning of year community art project for the art room has been the perfect mix of challenging and playful. I can't wait to see how my project will come to life in the art room!”
As we wrap up the final weeks of the first cohort of Eye to Eye’s Young Adult Guiding Coalition(YAGC), it has allowed us to reflect on the initiative and the opportunities it has brought to the organization and the young adults stewarding the coalition alongside us.
For those unaware, YAGC is a 10-month opportunity for young people aged 16-25 who identify as neurodivergent. YAGC members are primarily responsible for providing insight and input into Eye to Eye programs and services, co-creating opportunities for our Eye to Eye community, and serving as ambassadors for the movement to combat stigma and engage in anti-ableist practices as we work towards a world that celebrates neurodiversity.
Throughout the year, Eye to Eye’s Young Adult Guiding Coalition (YAGC) has demonstrated their commitment to creating meaningful change and advancing the organization’s mission. With a team of 13 active members, the YAGC has completed seven community connections, forging valuable partnerships and expanding the reach of Eye to Eye’s programs. Their participation in various speaking engagements and events has allowed them to raise awareness, share their stories, and advocate for inclusive education. Additionally, the YAGC has actively engaged in 27 committee working meetings, contributing innovative strategies to address the challenges faced by neurodiverse youth. Their involvement in strategic dives and exploration of new initiatives through a listening tour showcases their forward-thinking mindset and dedication to shaping Eye to Eye’s future.
The YAGC’s remarkable accomplishments and tireless dedication have made a significant impact on Eye to Eye and the broader neurodiverse community. Through their community connections, speaking engagements, and committee meetings, they have strengthened partnerships, sparked dialogue, and developed innovative strategies. Their collaborative efforts in strategic planning and exploration of new initiatives demonstrate their commitment to inclusive decision-making and ensuring all voices are heard.
Eye to Eye has been an instrumental part in making me the woman I am today. When I began working with their near-peer mentoring program in 2016 I felt in my soul it was something I needed to be a part of and I have never regretted that since. Eye to Eye has given me the space to be a mentor, leader, activist, and so much more and this year I was honored to be a part of their Young Adult Guiding Coalition (YAGC). As a member of this coalition I have been given a behind the scenes look into an organization I love and the opportunity to influence it to create a future I, and the rest of my cohort, wants to see.”
YAGC members work virtually as an advisory group in addition to 4 committees that work directly with specific internal teams here at Eye to Eye. Each committee has a YAGC Committee Chair that works directly with an Eye to Eye Staff Liaison as a collaborator.
The coalition’s impactful projects included developing Eye to Eye Alumn’Eye sessions and supporting Alumn’Eye programming at the Eye to Eye gathering. They provided valuable input on engaging young adults in fundraising and played a key role in planning Give Day and the 25th Anniversary Gala Celebration. The coalition also created a guide for sharing personal stories and advised on the Strike-Out Stigma campaign. Their efforts extended to designing a community-focused art project and enhancing art room activities for the upcoming program year.
The coalition’s dedication and collaboration have driven Eye to Eye’s mission forward, enhancing programs and fostering inclusivity.
As a member of the Professional Learning Committee, I felt empowered by my ability to use my experiences, both good and bad, as a student who learns differently to help create something positive that hopefully helps other students.”
Here are some reflections from Eye to Eye staff:
Two years ago we decided it was time to create a mechanism to ensure that our young leader voices were not only heard and valued within our programs but that those voices were also an important part of our behind the scenes strategy and creation. The Young Adult Guiding Coalition has been our answer to that need. Our first cohort of the YAGC is a beautiful blend of Alumn’eye that have experienced our programs and know personally the impact and experience of our community and other young adult neurodivergent leaders who can look at Eye to Eye from a different and equally respected vantage point. We are thrilled to continue to invest resources in the YAGC to ensure that we have young adult voices embedded in what we do and co-creating pathways of possibilities for our collective future.”
The YAGC has brought unique perspectives about development work that could only come from young adults with lived experience. The committee’s work will inform and drive progress the next fiscal year and beyond in raising up youth voice in all campaigns.“
The insights and feedback from our YAGC Near-Peer Mentoring Program Committee members were instrumental in shaping the development of resources for the upcoming school year! It was an eye-opening and incredibly valuable experience to connect with each member of this committee individually and as a whole group. Thank you to Emily, Katherine, Dylan and Jacob for a great year of learning and collaboration, and above all, for bringing your full lived experience as proudly neurodivergent young adults to our community!”
To learn more about the guiding coalition click here