EMPOWER!, NBCF’s New Student Advocacy Group, Provides a Vision for the Future
Communication is crucial when it comes to navigating throughout the world around us. Making sure people hear your needs and building connections with others is necessary to being one of your greatest advocates – an important skill if you have a disability.
Former NBCF student and recent high school graduate, Aarmoni, found that learning how to advocate for yourself can be a challenging road to navigate. Now he wants to provide current students guidance to help them succeed in NBCF’s newest student advocacy group, EMPOWER!
EMPOWER! allows students to gain a deep understanding of themselves, learning how to vocalize their needs throughout discussions with peers and engaging in meaningful group activities. Facilitated by our in-house social worker and Family Advocate, Ms. Megan, this program is designed to be student-led.
We’ve talked to both Aarmoni and Ms. Megan to give you the best insight about EMPOWER! Here’s what you need to know to help you learn about our student-led program:
Q&A with Aarmoni
What inspired you to start EMPOWER! at the Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation?
What inspired me to start EMPOWER! is I wanted to bring young adults an opportunity to be able to speak about their challenges of being visually impaired… I deal with being visually impaired and I want to help and spread the word about whether it’s okay to speak up for your needs in life, school, the workplace etc…
What kind of leadership are you hoping to lead EMPOWER! with? What is the model you are hoping to provide NBCF students?
I want my leadership to be relaxed… I want students to feel like they can talk in the group and not be shy… I don’t want anybody to feel locked into anything. I want everyone to feel relaxed, non-stressed and be able to show their emotions.
How will EMPOWER! assess the impact of its programs on the lives of students with visual impairments?
It will impact them by giving them a safe space with their peers to talk about their struggles of being visual impaired and they will have people around them who can relate to their challenges in some way shape or form without being shy or judged.
Q&A with Ms. Megan
How does the role of a Family Advocate fit within the framework of a student-led advocacy group?
My role as the Family Advocate will serve as the facilitator of the group. The ideas are Aarmoni’s and my experience and knowledge working with groups will add that professionalism to it. It’s important that this group is based on research and experience within the field.
How will you tailor your support to meet the unique needs of each student and their family within the EMPOWER! advocacy group?
Each group is going to be different. It’s going to be heavily focused on the energy and intent of each group. Some will be more inclined to participate in discussions, while others will prefer hands-on activities, like roleplay or worksheets. I’m going to follow the students’ lead and what they would like their group to be.
Are there specific challenges you anticipate in working with families of students with visual impairments, and how do you plan to address them?
One specific challenge that stands out is the limited independence some of the students may have… The biggest challenge is going to be to help the students realize that they are capable of great things and are their own biggest supporter. It is giving them back the power to stand up for themselves and use their voices.
Are there special permissions needed for a student to join EMPOWER?
To join EMPOWER, students must be in at least 6th grade and have a vision impairment. Unfortunately, sighted siblings will not be invited to attend this program.
The first meeting for EMPOWER! will be held on January 30th. The roster for this Spring’s student group is by invitation only. Students interested in joining the groups Fall session are encouraged to reach out in order to join the waitlist. If interested, please reach out to Ms. Megan via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.