Dominique Viel, founder of InvisiYouth, shares her story with us today!
‘When people find out I launched InvisiYouth Charity five years ago when I was 22, the follow-up questions tend to all fall into the categories of “How did you come up with a nonprofit supporting young adult chronic illness lifestyle?” or “You’re so young to run a nonprofit, how do you manage it?” or even “What makes young adult healthcare so different from pediatrics and adults?” If you look at it, the main theme stemming through all the questions around my philanthropy is a lack of understanding the young adult experience and what makes it one of the most vital times for an individual to be supported.
I was a teenage competitive tennis player with a laser focus on the life I wanted to live, but one injury resulted into years without proper diagnosis and complicated treatments as my chronic illnesses began to take center stage. I’m lucky I have a supportive family that stood by my side through all the horribly challenging times, like my mom being at every doctor’s appointment. “This is your health and your body, Dominique,” my mom would say. “No matter how old you are, you have to remember you are the patient and deserve to be as active of a participant in your healthcare as you can.”
It was her encouragement to always ask those “why” questions to our doctors when I didn’t understand or didn’t agree with a treatment plan that mattered the most as I began transitioning from pediatric to adult healthcare. When you’re in that 13-35 age demographic dealing with health struggles, you fall into the gap between these two healthcare worlds. You’re not dependent on others to make choices for yourself, but you shouldn’t be thrown into the deep-end of your treatment programs. You’re in the most critical time of your life, cultivating what matters to you, establishing your voice, and building your future life…but there’s no healthcare to specifically support you.
That fear of being invisible in my own healthcare journey fueled my passion to build InvisiYouth Charity, a global nonprofit helping teens and young adults with chronic illness or disability (physical AND mental) to have the right lifestyle tools, virtual resources, leadership programs and empowerment to thrive with any health struggles. You’re never ‘invisible’ with InvisiYouth, but rather ‘invincible’ because this population has the best skills to adapt, conquer, and excel. It is my goal that every young adult has tools to know they are represented, validated and supported on their unique health journey.
My chronic illnesses have become my life’s teammates and no longer the enemy taking value away. I will always crave gaining knowledge and sparks of joy from my life and work. I wake up and go to sleep as a person with a purpose that happens to also have chronic illnesses. Each day I work to pursue my goals, make InvisiYouth better, and always give back so others can feel just as knowledgeable to thrive in their daily lives like I do.’
You can find more about this charity on their website or @InvisiYouth on Instagram.