Unique Partnership to Provide College Experience to Developmentally Disabled
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Lakemary Center and MidAmerica Nazarene University are partnering to meet the needs of students diagnosed with certain developmental disabilities through the creation of a two-year, cohort-model certificate program recognized by the U. S. Department of Education. Starting this August, students in the Community Transition Program (CTP) will spend four semesters taking courses at MNU’s Olathe campus.
The goal of the certificate program is to prepare students for success in the workplace and to provide them with the socialization and maturation that occurs in the college setting. The unique program is the first such certificate partnership between a university and a center servicing the developmentally disabled in the Kansas City metro.
Fifty percent of the classes will take place in a blended format, meaning students will attend the same class as typically developing college students, under the instruction of MNU faculty. The remaining classes will be held on MNU’s main campus under the direction of Lakemary personnel. Students will attend the program in cohorts of 10 to 15 and groups will start twice a year.
“This is an opportunity to attend college for individuals who would not otherwise have that chance,” says Dr. Neil Friesland, MNU professor of education. “These students have similar hopes and dreams as typically developing college students. They want the chance to make and keep friends, learn skills that will help them earn a living and work toward a special achievement.”
Friesland and Dr. Nancy Damron, dean of the School of Education, have worked with Lakemary Center’s staff to create the program.
“We want to be a community resource and this program is a mission fit,” Damron says. “Our research and experience tell us that parents and their developmentally disabled students want a college experience, they just didn’t have a partner to provide that until now.”
The program will be co-administered by the two organizations. Students will apply through MNU and Lakemary Center will direct the intake of applicants. Applicants do not need to be currently receiving services through Lakemary in order to apply to the Community Transition Program at MNU.
To assist those interested in the program, there will be an informational meeting for students and families Wednesday, June 22, from 6-7 p.m. at MNU in Metz Hall, room 228.