From a young age, Elina Csapo ’24 knew that her childhood apraxia of speech made her different. She recalls the frustration she felt when friends and family couldn’t understand her, or when speech therapy proved to be more difficult than expected. She always wondered why there was no safe space for children with hidden disabilities to express themselves and connect with others like them. Thus, she created a platform called Young Able Voices, a space for kids with hidden disabilities to connect and share personal experiences. Elina hosts weekly chats to offer kids friendly and age-appropriate conversation where members can share their thoughts and work through their struggles alongside one another.
Elina explains that hidden disabilities such as apraxia, dyslexia, or dysgraphia tend to go unnoticed by most people and can oftentimes cause feelings of frustration, anger, and lack of confidence. Elina notes that when it comes to language and communication skills, she has to work twice as hard as her peers.
“I have come to terms with my apraxia, but I would love to help younger kids feel confident that things will get better for them and there is a place to talk to others facing similar challenges,” Elina said. “I feel quite strongly that children need to see others that have come before them with similar challenges and learn that their future can and will be bright.”
Since launching Young Able Voices this summer, Elina has connected with several speech and language teachers in her area and hopes to partner with these classrooms to share Young Able Voices with them. This fall, Elina plans to launch a Young Able Voices at Hun club where she will provide students with service opportunities to support various organizations that bring awareness to hidden disabilities.
While creating this type of platform has always been a goal for Elina, she believes that she couldn’t have done it without the support of her family, friends, and members of the Hun community.
“Prior to attending Hun, I would see others create solutions to community problems and think how cool it was, but I never really thought that I would be able to help in a similar way for my community,” she said. “Being a part of the Young Women’s Leadership Cohort, GEM, and the Female Athlete Network has really allowed me to dream big this year. I have been fortunate enough to interact with fabulous women leaders across many industries. My experience at Hun has really led me to believe that all things are possible.”