On September 23, 2021, I had the honor of speaking at Priorities for Advancing Inclusive Mentoring: A Community Briefing, a virtual community briefing hosted by MENTOR, along with the National Disability Mentoring Coalition, Partners for Youth with Disabilities, and the American Association for People with Disabilities.
This community briefing is built off the Youth Mentoring Caucus Congressional Briefing that took place in July called Advancing Inclusive Mentoring. That event focused on opportunities in training, accessibility and funding models that mentoring programs can utilize to increase inclusion and participation by youth and students with disabilities.
The September briefing further defined the four programmatic and policy priorities to move inclusive mentoring forward: connecting with more role models, connecting with more mentors, building a peer mentoring workforce and delivering inclusive and accessible e-mentoring solutions.
I specifically spoke on a panel that explored the topic of connecting with role models. Our panel included three mentor/mentee pairs. Each pair was from a different disability mentoring organization from across the United States. As each mentor and mentee spoke about their relationships, it became evident that when youth with disabilities have access to successful disabled adult role models, it can be life-changing for the youth. We discussed how mentors with disabilities can help youth succeed in school and graduate. Mentors can help youth prepare for job interviews and contribute to successful employment outcomes. Mentors can even help disabled youth become confident as they explore areas of themselves in their personal lives, such as sexuality, skill building and internalized ableism.
It was so exciting to discuss how we can expand access to role models across the nation so that even more youth with disabilities could benefit from having a disabled adult role model to help them navigate their lives. I am honored that I was asked to be a part of this discussion, and I learned so much from all of the other presenters as well. I am excited to continue with the collective efforts to help more people with disabilities have access to mentors and role models!
About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador advisor for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.