In Real Life Blog Series: Empowering Youth with Disabilities

MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership
June 10th, 2016
Posted In: In Real Life

Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships can have powerful positive effects on youth in a variety of ways. This June, we’re sharing stories about how mentoring can benefit all young people, and how you can add your voice in support of those most at-risk of becoming disconnected from school, work and their community. This post recognizes the important work done by Partners for Youth with Disabilities and the National disability Mentoring Coalition in support of young people with disabilities.

inclusion matchAn organization dedicated to empowering young people with disabilities to reach their full potential, Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) has been providing transformative mentoring programs, youth development opportunities, and inclusion expertise to young people in the Boston area for more than 31 years.

As part of the organization’s commitment to help young people achieve their personal, educational and career goals, and to guide organizations in becoming more inclusive, PYD has developed several direct-service programs for youth with disabilities, all of which use mentoring and relationships as tools to foster growth and development.

Through programs like Mentor Match, a one-to-one, community-based mentoring program, PYD has helped thousands of youth with disabilities improve their social development and meet their transition-related goals by connecting them with committed adult mentors who best fit their personality, interests and skills.

Over the course of a year, matches meet in person for at least four to six hours per month, and are in touch on a weekly basis by phone or email.  Mentors provide guidance, support and encouragement to their mentees, ultimately helping them set goals and achieve them.

“Over the last 31 years, I have observed first-hand the power of mentoring.  Many of the original mentees from 1985 (the year PYD was founded) are now adults with successful careers, families and full lives.  They are now serving as mentors to a new generation,” PYD Founder and Executive Director Regina Snowden said.

In addition to providing support to youth and adults with disabilities, PYD is a founding member of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC), a group dedicated to increasing the awareness, quality and impact of mentoring for individuals with disabilities across the nation.

inclusion match number 2Member organizations, including MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, share core values and align with the Coalition’s initiatives to streamline communication, standardize and systematize data collection, reduce duplication of efforts, increase mentoring opportunities, and improve outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities.

Specifically, member organizations operate one-on-one, group, e-Mentoring, peer and informal programs for youth with cognitive, deaf and hard of hearing, emotional, learning, mental, physical and/or mobility and vision-related disabilities.  The NDMC is the only organization that addresses the full range of mentoring needs to enhance transition, employment and full inclusion of individuals with disabilities.

Through its members, including other non-profits, foundations, higher education, government and corporate partners, the NDMC is finding ways to build connections, share resources, improve mainstream inclusion, and provide recognition for mentors and mentoring programs that are making a difference for youth with disabilities.

As its first project, the NDMC established the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame, honoring one of the disability community’s most admired leaders whose passion was to connect young people with disabilities to meaningful careers through mentoring.  The 2016 inductees will be announced in July.  Currently, the NDMC is beginning work to develop a national mentor/mentee access point, referral system and pipeline to help youth with disabilities achieve their personal and professional goals.

PYD, the NDMC and its members welcome and include people of all abilities, identities, and backgrounds, recognizing that diverse and fully inclusive organizations empower individuals, further communities, and create a better world for us all.

Follow the National Disability Mentoring Coalition on Twitter: @DisMentors


9 million young people in America are in need of a trusted adult in their lives to guide them in moments big and small. Join the In Real Life movement and become an advocate, make a donation or become a volunteer.


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