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Updated on 5/4/2009 11:02:39 AM.
Source: Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
Nashville (Tenn.)—The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VKC UCEDD) has received a 3-year grant from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities (Council) to develop and coordinate a Postsecondary Education Program for students with intellectual disabilities at Vanderbilt University. The program will be the first of its kind in the state of Tennessee.
“The Council made a commitment this year to develop a pilot project on the campus of a Tennessee college or university for postsecondary students who have an intellectual disability and did not receive a high school diploma,” said Council executive director, Wanda Willis. “Continuing education programs like this are increasingly available on college campuses across the country. At present, Tennessee does not have a similar program available anywhere in the state. Our goal is to launch a demonstration project on the campus of Vanderbilt University on January 1, 2009.”
Vanderbilt will accept its first students in January 2010, after an initial planning year. Working with University, Medical Center, and community disability organizations, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center faculty, staff, and trainees will develop a day program that lasts for two years per student. Each year, eight young adults will take a mixture of undergraduate, life-skills, and technical courses, as well as take part in campus extracurricular activities with Vanderbilt undergraduates. College courses will be provided through regular Vanderbilt undergraduate course offerings, life-skills courses with internships similar to programs such as Vanderbilt’s Project Opportunity (with help from graduate students from Peabody’s Special Education Department), and technical courses through the Tennessee Technology Centers.
“Key components of the Vanderbilt program will foster the development of independent living and employment skills,” said VKC UCEDD co-director, Elise McMillan. “As with nearly all of our programs at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, the postsecondary education program we develop will include research, training, and service. Having all three components will allow for the development and replication of model programs across the state.”
McMillan and VKC UCEDD director of research, Robert Hodapp, are lead faculty on the grant. The VKC UCEDD also is a part of the Administration on Developmental Disabilities’ National Training Initiative on Postsecondary Education for Students with Intellectual Disabilities. The Initiative is led by the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts. Other participating universities include the University of Minnesota, UCLA, the University of Hawaii, Ohio State University, and the University of South Carolina.
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