David Flink

Ashoka Fellow
New York, United States
Fellow Since 2014
My work: building a youth-powered movement to combat the stigma attached to learning differences

Check out this video of David Flink's work:


Related TopicsChildren & Youth, Education / Learning


This profile was prepared when David Flink was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
David is giving students with learning disabilities (LD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) a voice and microphone to share their experience, challenge common stereotypes, and to develop the confidence and understanding they need to make their learning environment work for them. At the heart of the model is a peer-driven mentorship program, wherein kids with LD/ADHD are paired with college and high students who have been similarly labeled. Through a carefully designed year-long curriculum, students develop a combination of empathy and other social-emotional learning skills, and learn how to ask for the things they need to succeed in school.

Yet David realized that creating classrooms that meet the needs of all learners demands more than equipping students with the ability to self-advocate: after all, even the best intentioned teachers often lack the know-how to effectively design classrooms and teaching strategies to best engage dyslexic and other students with learning differences He is thus building a network of current Eye to Eye mentors and recently graduates to serve as Think Different Diplomats, who are then strategically deployed to schools, universities, and conferences to dispel stigmas, educate stakeholders, and advocate on behalf of students who think differently.

The ambassador network, together with a forthcoming book set to be published by HarperCollins in August, and a variety of creative media strategies, is part of an effort to create a platform through which young people with learning differences can challenge pervasive cultural stigma, and equip teachers, parents, and policymakers with the tools they need to better address the needs of the LD community. Begun while David was a college student at Brown University, Eye to Eye today works directly with thousands of students across the country, powered by 57 chapters in 22 states.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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