Easter Seals Greater Houston’s program for Young Adults with Disabilities have been winding down with summer and looking forward to fall activities. We are keeping our virtual hangouts fun by bringing back our activity bags which will support the theme of the day. The Young Adults with Disabilities Program will be keeping some of our favorite classes like dance, drama and music but we will also be adding life skills classes like cooking courses with a trained chef. How cool?! We are really looking forward to the day that we can be together again but in the meantime, we will be making “Beautiful Friendship Bracelets” to remind us that we are not alone, we are in this together and we will be together as soon as it is safe. Our volunteers have been OUTSTANDING as well planning bag pick ups and distributions. They have also been key players in brainstorming a safe reintegration when the time comes. Finally, Hurricane Ida has affected some family members of our group so we will be completing our first Adults With Disabilities Program service project, partnering with Easter Seals Louisiana to get essential items to our neighbors. Talk about a big, warm hug from a distance! We are so proud of our crew as they continue to stay strong, stay healthy and support each other.
My name is Maddie Farrell, I’m 20 years old, and I have lived in Houston my entire life. I’m a rising junior at Texas A&M University, where I’m studying Environmental Science in hopes to work in the sustainability field. I am involved in my sorority and Aggie ACHIEVEMates, a student organization that supports the students with disabilities in the ACHIEVE program at Texas A&M. I’m very passionate about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s mission and advocating for people with disabilities. I first started volunteering with Easter Seals Greater Houston in high school through my chapter of National Charity League. I’ve volunteered at both Camp Smiles and Camp Buckaroo and I loved my experiences at both of them. I had no idea how great an impact Easter Seals Greater Houston and their clients would have on my life when I first volunteered. I have met so many amazing kids, made so many sweet friendships, and learned a lot about myself and what it means to make a difference. I’m beyond excited to serve as a camps intern for the second year in a row and I can’t wait to see the kids in person this year!
Even though we are just itching to get to see each other again in person, we are making the most of our time on Zoom! Every week our LEAD Adult Program meets virtually via Zoom with a different activity planned for each meeting. Last week, Kenzie Richard volunteered her time to lead our adults through a Disney World Virtual Escape Room! Our LEADers participated in each challenge to escape Disney World. Some of the challenges were quite hard but when we worked as a team, we were able to get out in just under an hour. Thank you Kenzie for leading us through that fun adventure! Check out this video of our Adult Program participants working together to escape the room and boredom.
Do you have a special activity or program you think our LEAD Adult Program would enjoy? Are you interested in leading us through the activity for 30 minutes or an hour via Zoom? Email Ashley Nichols at ANichols@eastersealshouston.org to learn how you can get involved!
January 2021 is the 19th annual National Mentoring Month and I can’t help but wonder where we might all be right now without the influence of a mentor. Imagine, for a moment, a world without Apple Computers, Microsoft or Facebook; a world without Oprah Winfrey, Mother Teresa or even Marlon Brando as the Godfather. This, my friends is a world without mentors. Some of the most successful and brilliant minds of the last century had one thing in common. They all had a mentor.
So, what does it mean to be a mentor? According to world-renowned speaker and author Bob Proctor, “A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself and helps bring it out of you.” I’m sure many of you can dig deep and think back to a time in your life when you looked up to someone for direction or guidance and approval. Someone who changed the trajectory of your life. A coach, a teacher or a boss perhaps. Or perhaps, like many young people in America you had no one. Well, you wouldn’t be alone. More than 1 in 3 young people, an estimated 16 million, never had an adult mentor of any kind while they were growing up, according the national report The Mentoring Effect published in 2014. This population includes an estimated 9 million at-risk youth who will reach age 19 without ever having a mentor, making them less likely to graduate high school, go on to college and lead healthy productive lives.
For those 9 million at-risk youth, mentorship is a life-line. It’s make or break and sadly in some cases, life or death. It takes one caring adult to take interest and invest just a little bit of time into a young person’s life to forever change its course. Whether it’s a attending a football game, an occasional bowling night, a weekly text or just checking in on their report card, the smallest investment in a youth’s life results in some of the largest gains. Not only for the youth, but for the mentor and the community in which they live. In fact, according to a study cited by David Shapiro, President and CEO of MENTOR, every dollar invested in quality youth mentoring programs yields a $3 return in benefits to society at a minimum. I think it’s safe to say that even Warren Buffet (who, by the way, mentored Microsoft mogul Bill Gates) would consider that a pretty darn good Return On Investment (ROI).
The Mentoring Effect study also found that 76% of at-risk young adults who had a mentor aspire to enroll in and graduate college and 45% of all at-risk youth with a mentor are now enrolled in some form of postsecondary education. So what do the numbers tell us? That mentoring makes a difference; it improves outcomes, it increases graduation rates, it reduces the risk of drug and alcohol use, it builds healthy interpersonal relationships and fosters measurable success in our at-risk youth in America.