Eye to Eye is a nationwide mentoring program that pairs children who grow up with learning disabilities or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with college or high school students who have a similar diagnosis.
Sophomore history and secondary education major Matt Cahill is attempting to bring an Eye to Eye chapter to Temple.
The goal of the program is to allow the young students to see their disabilities in a positive light through arts and interaction with their mentors. Cahill and Liza Troman, a junior early education major, are hoping to have the university’s program up and running by October.
“We are looking for a mentee school at the moment. Our goal is to find one in the Northern Philadelphia area,” Cahill said. “We have the disabilities services on board and the only other thing that we need is funding.”
This particular cause strikes a personal chord with Troman and Cahill because they also have learning disabilities.
“I had a lot of difficulties in elementary and middle school,” Cahill said. “When you look at your own academic achievements and you notice that where you stand today is because of a lot of other people’s efforts, it’s a really rewarding thing to make a significant impact on a another student who went through the same things as you.”
“I wish when I was in school I had a mentoring program,” Troman said.
Cahill said there are about four or five elementary and middle schools within a five-mile radius of the university that are possible mentee schools for the program. Most of the schools have an individualized education program for students with learning disabilities.
He said 20 percent of students in the North Philadelphia area have a diagnosed learning disability. There is a good chance that most, if not all, the students attend one of the four possible schools.
“What we really want to try to do, is to bring in the community of North Philadelphia so we can help those specific students,” Cahill said.
However, before Cahill and Troman can begin at one of the local schools, funding still needs to be addressed. Their goal is to raise $4,500.
“That’s a good chunk of change,” Cahill said. “But I think it’s a reasonable chunk of change that we could get.”
Cahill and Troman hope the majority of the funding can be acquired through the university and alumni donations. The rest would be gained through fundraising.
Cahill said Naomi Leibowitz, assistive technology coordinator at the Disability Resource Center, has been helping him with the project.
“It is all Matt Cahill,” she said.
“It’s really important for me to be a positive role model for other students, because I understand what they’re going through and it’s a tough process and if you have just one positive role model, it makes it just so much easier to handle school and see that it’s not the prison that sometimes it seems to be,” Cahill said.
Cahill said he still has a long way before the program is off the ground but said he’s eager to hear from students who want to get involved.
“Right now we are looking for people in the Temple community to reach out and help us,” he said.
Cindy Stansbury can be reached at email@example.com.