Sun Devils launched initiative for middle schoolers with learning disabilities

August 23, 2020
3 minutes

One in every five students has a learning disability in the United States.

Eye to Eye is a national organization focused on “unlocking greatness in the 1 in 5 who learn differently,” according to its tagline. The organization implements a program in which college students mentor middle school students with the same or similar learning disabilities they experience themselves. 

Eye to Eye group at ASU

Members of Eye to Eye at ASU

Chloe Breger, 21, a recent biological sciences graduate, discovered Eye to Eye in summer 2019 and with the help of  ASU’s Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services, she was able to implement Eye to Eye at ASU.  

“I was looking for ways to mentor youth in the community and found Eye to Eye national and asked the DRC [Disability Resource Center, now known as the Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services at ASU] to help finance the program and start it at ASU,” Breger said. 

As founder and co-leader of E2E at ASU, Breger was inspired by the program’s potential to help younger students who’ve experienced challenges to navigate through their education and find strength in knowing that they are not alone. 

“For me, it was about inspiring youth and creating a sense of community and support for those who learn differently,” Breger said. 

With the support of ASU staff, Breger began recruiting student mentors for the fall 2019 semester. 

Urban planning major Amanda Caparoso,19, was originally recruited as a mentor but was asked to join Breger as co-leader of E2E.  

“It is great for the kids to get a sense of community, and we help fight the stigma on learning differences,” Caparoso said.

The program is partnered with the ASU Prep Poly STEM Academy middle school students. When schools are open, Sun Devil mentors travel once a week to the Polytechnic campus to work on “socio-emotional skills through craft projects” where the children are free to express themselves. 

Breger and Caparoso are responsible for preparing each week’s lesson plan, in accordance with the national program’s curriculum. 

“I usually start with a game or icebreaker, then Chloe introduces the topic and lesson of the day, then the mentors and mentees work together to create their art projects with what they learned,” Caparoso said. 

E2E also offers the opportunity for Sun Devils to be allies. Allies are ASU students who do not have a learning disability or do not have enough time to be a mentor but still want to be a part of the background work that is done to keep the program running.

“Allies are people who still want to be involved and are a great help,” Breger said. 

As a whole, E2E at ASU grew into a developed program and was named one of ASU’s 2020 Distinguished Student Organizations.  

“We really created a community within ASU. We are all very understanding and have a lot of fun,” Caparoso said. 

As a graduate, Breger entrusted Eye to Eye to the next generation of students who have committed to working diligently to help young people with learning disabilities.

Visit the Eye to Eye at ASU Instagram to learn more about their events, announcements and plans for the future. If you would like to support the growth of the organization at ASU, you can donate to their GoFundMe.

Carmen De Alba Cardenas, Sun Devil Storyteller