InvisiYouth' Apprentices

This is not your ordinary internship. Formerly part of the Global Brand Leaders Program (a leadership program for young people living with chronic illnesses and disabilities around the world which emphasized on teaching and improving their skills and networks in learning wonderful leadership, marketing, fundraising and team-building skills). IY Apprentices is all about professional goals to an entirely new level while also embracing the needs of the young adult chronic illness and disability community.

#IYApprentices are hand-selected individuals that have soared above and beyond to advocate for other young people in the chronic illness/disability community. With more than three years of engagement supporting InvisiYouth, these Apprentices are at an elite level of mentorship, civic engagement and fundraising expansion. They will take an immersive role in InvisiYouth’s team every month while also showcasing their individualized skillsets that can improve and expand InvisiYouth’s mission. Let’s meet the 2023 IY Apprentices!

Leah Wayne

19, USA, New Jersey

A freshman at American University studying Biology(pre-med track), Leah has been pushing through and fighting various chronic illness since she was 9 years old. At 9, she was diagnosed with CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) and then was in remission by the age of 13. She continued to experience severe migraines as well as adding other diagnoses to her life. By the middle of 2020, she was diagnosed with and fighting gastroparesis, intestinal dysmotility, severe autonomic dysfunction, and undefined connective tissue disease. She relied on TPN(total parenteral nutrition) for a year and a half and experienced septic shock twice while on it. In June of 2022, she reached her biggest milestone of being able to remove her central line and sustain herself nutritionally.

Leah remains as positive as can be, as she has done since she was 9 years old. Her interest in helping others has always been prevalent, she makes a constant effort to be open and explain disability/illness to those who don’t understand, and she displays her scars and medical life-sustaining devices on social media and in public to help push social norms and to encourage other young adults to embrace their medical differences because they are gorgeous and display strength. Her ultimate goal in her activism is to help inspire and promote growth in awareness and self-acceptance. In her free time, Leah loves to be with her friends, go shopping, spend time learning in coffee shops, and take trips to DC and Boston! She cannot wait to continue her activism journey and time with InvisiYouth!

Sophie Ward

30, UK, England

I suffer with chronic Lyme Disease for over 16  years and other co infections. I live in Lancashire in the North West of England. I went nine long years suffering before being diagnosed back when I was 23 years old. I contracted Lyme via a panda whilst on a trip with my family to watch the Olympics back in 2008. As I used to be a swimmer for Great Britain and the Olympics was my dream. London 2012 was my goal! Unfortunately my symptoms caused me to retire at the age of 16 and my dreams were dashed.

Since becoming diagnosed, I have pumped my energy and efforts into awareness for Lyme but also chronic illnesses as a whole, as they really are life shattering and so many young adults and youths are suffering in silence. That is why I LOVE working with InvisiYouth and have enjoyed my work with the charity over the years. Because their mission aligns with my own and I know that all the work Dominque and her team do is to help in EVERY WAY they possibly can to make the lives of sufferers feel less lonely and more manageable. My passions are writing poetry and creating social media content. I also LOVE fundraising and event planning.

I post on Instagram about mental health and chronic illness content, and have my podcast- Chronic But Iconic that shines a light on chronic illness topics, and you can stream it on via Apple, Spotify and Anchor.

Natalie Williams

26, UK, England

From Hertfordshire, England, I studied Psychology at university and now work with data. In my spare time, I enjoy crafts and playing my Nintendo Switch. I have dyspraxia and mild cerebral palsy and am passionate about raising awareness of both, particularly dyspraxia which lacks awareness and understanding. I started my blog about dyspraxia during Dyspraxia Awareness Week in 2014 and continue to raise awareness through my blog and social media accounts.

I first became involved in InvisiYouth during early 2020, pre-Covid [when they hosted a London event that was filmed in the upcoming documentary The Dark Horse by British filmmaker Ashleigh Harley]. They followed my social media accounts and invited me to attend their event in London. It was a lovely day, with the opportunity to meet others and listen to some very insightful talks.

From then onwards, I had the opportunity to become involved with InvisiYouth as part of their Global Brand Leaders programme. I’m now excited to be starting as an Apprentice with InvisiYouth.