Doors to College Life Opening Up to Disabled Students at O.C.C.

Aug 7, 2013

From volcanoes in science class to high-energy Zumba workouts, O.C.C. is opening its doors to college life for students with learning disabilities from all over the Onondaga County.

Students at the New Visions Program on O.C.C. campus.
Credit WAER News- Christian Bersani

The week-long New Visions program is currently underway for handicapped community members who wish to experience college as any other student would.  Program Director Amy Mech says this is a chance for disabled students to be educated and build social skills in a much more familiar setting.

“It’s a feeling of normalization. It’s the opportunity to learn new skills in classes that are geared towards their specific needs. Their specific needs may be a baseline job skill that somebody in the community may be able to get from high school; they didn’t get those skills.”

Mech says students chose from over a dozen courses at the beginning of the week and are now midway through attending their five-class-per-day schedule.  For Math Enthusiast Elizabeth Showers, music appreciation class allows her to take a break from crunching numbers to socialize with her peers.

“It’s fun to meet other people I have not met; it’s new stuff for me to experiment with other people and get to know them well and know what they do.”

After a week of course work, fun activities culminate with yearbooks, a prom, and a cap-and-gown graduation ceremony.  Mech and other program volunteers are looking into the possibility of creating more activities for disabled-students up on the hill.