Mentor Match – Partners For Youth with Disabilities
By Becky Rizoli, Youth Program Coordinator, LINK Center (FCSN)
If you are an adolescent or a young adult with a disability, you may often feel alone. You may feel that there is no one else who understands the struggles you go through. While your family, teachers, therapists, and other adults in your life may support you; you may feel as though they don’t truly understand you. If only there was some way that you could connect with someone who could relate to the challenges that you go through, perhaps someone with a disability who had been through special education and transition.
Well, you’re in luck. There is such a way, and it’s called Mentor Match through Partners for Youth with Disabilities, or PYD for short. PYD offers a program for young people with disabilities ages 6-24 (living within the MA-128 belt surrounding Boston) to meet their full potential for personal development and independence by matching them with a caring adult mentor, many of whom have disabilities themselves. Mentors talk with their mentees at least once a week via phone or email; and take their mentees out to fun places like the beach, shopping, or athletic events. Both the mentor and the mentee benefit from the match as they grow and learn from each other.
I have had the honor to be a mentor through PYD’s Mentor Match. I was paired with a young woman, and I have enjoyed getting to know her and being a source of support to her. I have been able to help her with issues surrounding relationships, careers, health, disclosing a disability, and staying organized. Much of the advice I have given her stems from a direct result of having similar experiences in my own youth. Because she and I both have “hidden” disabilities, (that is, no one can tell that we have disabilities just by looking at us) I am able to connect with her in a unique manner. Since I have experienced many of the same struggles and obstacles as my mentee, I am able to share the life lessons I have learned, and pass them on to her. I feel truly honored and privileged to have this opportunity. We also have a great time together as we get to know each other and take part in fun activities around the Boston area.
If you are interested in learning more about how to become a Mentor or Mentee in PYD’s Mentor Match program, visit PYD’s website at: www.pyd.org/mentor-match.php