At the height of COVID, many of us were learning that “zoom” was more than just a verb, Cure CMD began sponsoring Happy Hours. As we recognized that one of the most consistently well-attended sessions was the Young Adult Happy Hour (teens, 20s, and 30s) group, Cure CMD wanted to respond to this interest. Eager to utilize the talents and insights of young adult staff, we began offering more YA programming and, over the pandemic years, a strong YA community formed.
Fast forward to 2022 SciFam, we were excited to offer a slate of sessions geared specifically toward young adults. We sat down (virtually) with Kelly Berger and Avery Roberts — both young adults, and both who are a part of the Cure CMD Community Outreach and Engagement Team — and talked to them about the process of this all-important aspect of community outreach.
“We actively began prepping for our brand-new Young Adult SciFam Programming in early 2022,” says Berger. “We put together a wide range of both interactive and informative panels we felt would cater best to our young adult audience. It was important for us to be all-inclusive and offer diverse programming featuring our very own community members as speakers, as well as notable disability athletes, influencers & beyond to really capture all interests.”
Working tirelessly in the first half of 2022 to make sure the YA Program went smoothly at SciFam, Berger and Roberts brainstormed ideas, put together the schedule, locked in speakers (factoring multiple time zones to adjust for virtual attendees from around the globe), and negotiated endless details.
“It was definitely the hardest, most challenging thing we’ve done,” says Berger.
But for them, seeing all their hard work come to life at SciFam was, in their words, “a magical and surreal experience.” In Nashville, Cure CMD’s YA Program hosts had the opportunity to facilitate community members engaging and interacting with disability peers and stars who they looked up to. “It was neat to be part of that exchange. Amidst the chaos I was smiling the entire time, having executed a jam-packed day of programming. Seeing lasting connections being made makes it all worth it!” said Berger.
Roberts agrees. “Being able to help facilitate those friendships is so special, and it is really important to me that we continue to do so. Being a teen affected by CMD myself, I think we’re all really excited to see what is yet to come with the programming and are ready to continue the fun.”
Forging their own friendships was just as important as fueling others’. Says Berger, “It was incredible to finally meet this amazing community in-person that I’ve connected with over the past couple years through Cure CMD’s online virtual events. I’ve developed so many amazing friendships over our Happy Hours and various other virtual programming so it was a pleasure to carry that out in real life face to face. Meeting the community in-person after all this time was really memorable & heart-warming to see friends just like me.”
So what’s next for YA programming? The webinar series continues, next with two writing webinars. The Creative Contest has returned, and look for upcoming trivia and bingo nights. Each of these events will build on the momentum already started.
“The brand new YA Program at SciFam was a huge success for so many reasons: there was a lot of learning going on, laughing, and tons of new connections being made,” says Roberts. “I think the YA Program at SciFam showed that we’re all definitely craving these super valuable connections and relationships with each other — within & beyond the CMD community.”
Visit curecmd.org for more opportunities to connect:
Find informative materials for your journey on the YA Resources page
Do you have input for our next YA SciFam Programming? We want to hear from YOU!
Join 20s/30s Happy Hours every first & 3rd Friday of the month on Zoom
Sign up for Peer to Peer Connections Program to be matched with a fellow community member just like you
Check out the recorded Young Adult Educational Transitions Webinar