Project Eye-to-Eye Featured – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
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Project Eye-to-Eye Featured

William Smith student Alexandra Connell ’10 founded the Geneva chapter of Project Eye-to-Eye to empower middle school students through mentorship. In an article in Wednesday’s Finger Lakes Times, Connell shares a success story of the program. One of its middle school members has, over the course of three years, gone from avoiding talking about her dyslexia to willingly answering questions about it.

“I just see a huge sense of pride and a feeling she can completely talk about it,” Connell is quoted.

The article notes “The group also breaks down misconceptions about learning disabilities, which even students with the learning disabilities have. Many are surprised when they discover they’re not alone in their disability; the group informs students about other people with disabilities, like Apple cofounder Steve Jobs and actor Vince Vaughn.”

This Friday, a Project Eye-to-Eye event will be held on campus, at the Katherine D. Elliott Studio Arts Center.

The full article and details about the time and location of the event follow.


Finger Lakes Times
Project Eye-to-Eye empowers students with disabilities

DAVID TAUBE • April 28, 2010

GENEVA – Three years ago, a certain Geneva Middle School student avoided talking about her dyslexia.

She joined a Friday after-school program with other students who have learning disabilities, but she was apprehensive about discussing the subject like most of her peers.

That changed.

The class was actually intended to match middle school students with college mentors who also have learning disabilities to talk about their experiences and create new ones, such as participating in art projects and showing the youngsters they too can reach college despite any obstacle.

Nowadays, that particular dyslexic student darts her hand in the air to answer a question about her disability.

“I just see a huge sense of pride and a feeling she can completely talk about it,” said Alexandra Connell, a senior at William Smith College who founded the local chapter in Geneva.

The program, called Project Eye-to-Eye, seeks to empower students through mentorship and rise above labels like “learning disabled” and “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.”

Connell founded the local chapter three years ago, and it has grown to include 25 middle school students and 25 mentors from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Connell said if a program like Eye-to-Eye was available to her in middle school, she probably would have avoided talking about her issues with other students in the program as well. Many middle school students are that way at first, she said.
One fill-in-the-blank book had students in the group complete sentences like “I am [blank].” For the dyslexic eighth-grader, the activity nowadays results in her presenting her personal information to the entire group, including, “I have a learning disability.”

The group also breaks down misconceptions about learning disabilities, which even students with the learning disabilities have. Many are surprised when they discover they’re not alone in their disability; the group informs students about other people with disabilities, like Apple cofounder Steve Jobs and actor Vince Vaughn.

As part of Disability Awareness Month, the program will close a monthlong Disability and the Arts Festival 2010 at the Colleges with an event that features Project Eye-to- Eye students and their work.

From 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, a slideshow, student artwork, and a graduation ceremony for those continuing in the program and those departing will be held at the Katherine D. Elliott Studio Arts Center, Kings Lane off Route 14 at Hobart and William Smith.