Balancing manifold tasks requires the ability to focus attention. For people with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, the concept sparks an overwhelming sensation of defeat due to a biological deficiency of norepinephrine in the brain, a specific neurotransmitter that regulates bodily responses to stress.
Empathetic of this frustration, Talia Alon ’17 chose to spend her summer interning for Eye to Eye, a non-profit organization which aims “to create a world in which people with Learning Disabilities (LD) and ADHD,” a community she is part of, “are fully accepted, valued, and respected.”
Double majoring in sociology and American studies, Alon initially applied for the internship after being prompted to do so by a National Program Coordinator linked to the HWS chapter of Eye to Eye. The student club, which operates under the national Eye to Eye organization, matches HWS students and Geneva middle school students with learning disabilities in an arts-based mentorship program. The chapter at HWS has been lauded for being one of the most vibrant and successful across the country, and Alon acts as one of the many inspirational mentors.
“Throughout my life, I’ve learned that I think differently than other people,” says Alon, who hopes to boost self-esteem and academic empowerment among other like-minded individuals. “I applied for this internship because I wanted to see what it was like behind the scenes working for a non-profit organization.”
Her work this summer heavily involves logistical planning efforts for the 2015-2016 Eye to Eye curriculum. She also assisted in the preparation of the organization’s annual Organizing Institute and acted as a counselor for Camp Eye to Eye. “I help make and edit presentations, help plan programs, set up events and projects, and offer new ideas,” she says. “Helping create the new curriculum which will be nationally used is really cool.”
Most recently, Alon and co-intern Emma Colbran traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the 25th anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act at the Department of Education. There, she had the opportunity to table and converse with representatives of other organizations who work to spread awareness and support for people with disabilities.
“It was the first time Emma and I were ever invited to an event like that as LD/ADHD community members,” says Alon. “We were the only two people representing the community as a whole, so it was very rewarding to be part of that change.”
Next, Alon will participate in the Organizing Institute, an annual training conference for college and high school chapter student coordinators held at Brown University in Providence, R.I. She will be joined by Chris Gorman ’17, co-coordinator for the HWS chapter of Eye to Eye. The four-day celebration aims to “build leadership and empowerment skills through workshops, lectures, and activities,” led by National Program Coordinators. At the conclusion of the conference, chapter coordinators will develop an “action plan,” outlining a calendar of events, roles, responsibilities, and art curriculum (which Alon has been working on) for the upcoming fall semester at HWS.
Unyielding to stereotypes of the ADHD population, Alon notes that through her involvement with the organization, she has “learned how important it is to be open” about her differences, establishing a sense of comfort and self-advocacy among peers and employers. She plans to share her book full of new ideas inspired by other student coordinators with the HWS community this fall.
“I have gained many insightful ideas which I am excited to introduce to the HWS chapter,” she says. “I’ve heard so many stories about what other chapters have done, from games in the art room to community building events. There are many different things I plan to add to our campus chapter. It has definitely opened my eyes to a whole lot more.”
For more information on the national Eye to Eye organization, visit their website.