January 16, 2009

VKC creates program for college students with intellectual disabilities

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Lesego Motsumi

VKC creates program for college students with intellectual disabilities

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities is receiving a three-year grant from the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities to develop and coordinate a college program for students with intellectual disabilities.

Vanderbilt's program will be the first of its kind in Tennessee to offer structured post-high school education for these students.

“Continuing education programs like this are increasingly available on college campuses across the country,” said Wanda Willis, council executive director. “At present, Tennessee does not have a similar program available anywhere in the state.”

Vanderbilt will accept its first students in January 2010, after an initial planning year. Working with University, the Medical Center, and community disability organizations, VKC faculty, staff and trainees will develop a daytime 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.