Sightseeing. A periodic tour of CVI news, views and events.

The STARS Mentoring Program Empowers Visually Impaired Youth

Picture of a chalkboard with the word mentorThe STARS Mentoring Program at CVI is the brainchild of Annie Maxwell, former Director of STARS. In 2000, STARS Students were paired with visually impaired adults during a weekend retreat. Feedback on the retreat and the pairings were incredibly positive; as a result, Ms. Maxwell decided to establish a program in which students were paired with a Mentor on a long term basis. Many positive one-on-one mentoring relationships have been established through STARS. The mission of the STARS Mentoring Program is to empower visually impaired youth to make positive life choices that enable them to maximize their potential and promote independence with dignity.

Under the current STARS director, Heather Dicks, mentoring has been expanded to include group mentoring for students under 10 years of age with specific eye conditions. One such group is the Albinism Support Group which meets about every other month. The purpose of the group is to offer support, resources, and information to parents who have children with albinism.

The STARS Mentor serves as a positive role model by sharing life experiences and developing a long-term, supportive and encouraging relationship with a young person. Expected outcomes for the Mentee are:

  • Increased self-confidence
  • Increased self-efficacy
  • Increased ability to set realistic goals
  • Improved interpersonal skills
  • Improved preparation for successful employment and continued learning

One of the success stories is the pairing of LaKeisha Holmes and Aquila Semper. LaKeisha is a former STARS student and now a CVI Braille Instructor and mentor to current STARS student Aquila. Of their mentor-mentee relationship LaKeisha says, “I have been mentoring Aquila for about 5 years. It has been a great experience. I have had the opportunity to watch her grow in to the wonderful young lady that she is today. I have known Aquila since she was 7 and it has been amazing to watch her form in to who she is today,” she shares. ” With me knowing her for so long, she has seen me go through different stages of life as well. Seeing me finish high school, go through college, and finally graduate from college showed her that she can do it too. She has also taught me a lot about life. She shows me daily that no matter what your visual impairment is, you can do anything. She is a very active member in her band, and she also finds time to work two jobs. I am very blessed and honored to have her as a mentee.” Aquila will graduate in May of this year and plans to attend college!

Picture of mentor, Carrie with STARS student, McClainMentoring is a proven strategy for improving young people’s self-esteem, emotional development, and academic performance, while also reducing the likelihood of participating in high-risk behavior. You can get involved and make a difference. If you are a visually impaired independent adult and would like to become a mentor, you may contact Calvin Lee, Family Support Coordinator at 404-602-4373 or email at