SUPPORTING STUDENTS WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES AT
NICOLA VALLEY INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Inclusive post-secondary education is for students with developmental disabilities who want to study the same academic programs and extracurricular activities as any other student at NVIT.
Supported by STEPS Forward facilitators, the students choose their academic program area of interest, the courses they want to study, and what typical campus activities they want to engage in. Their course of studies is the same as other students with the exception that they are non-crediting students. Upon completion of their studies instead of receiving a Diploma at convocation they receive a Certificate of Completion.
As for all young adults, post-secondary education broadens the vision and potential for individuals with developmental disabilities. Students experience increased opportunities to develop careers, to make social connections and set down the foundation for leading a meaningful inclusive life after graduation.
STEPS Forward works in partnerships with NVIT to individualize the students' schedules and personal goals and to be supported through:
• Course planning and scheduling
• Course modifications
• Peer connections
• Connection to overall campus involvement (clubs, teams, study groups, etc.)
Student life on campus is very inclusive. Professors and classmates are an important part of the students overall experience. Together they engage in:
• Group discussions
• Class participation
• Share notes
• Make social connections outside of classes.
All these opportunities increase the student's social network and the opportunity for long lasting, meaningful relationships.
Like other college students, the students are supported to find paid employment during the spring and summer months where they gain experience, develop career interests, make work and social connections, and earn money. The STEPS Forward facilitator supports students and co-workers throughout the entire employment process to provide the support to the students and workplace staff that ensures the job is successful for everyone involved.
For more information contact:
Lisa DeWinter, Inclusion Facilitator at:
Or visit the STEPS Forward website at www.steps-forward.org
STEPS Forward is a family-driven organization founded to ensure that people
with developmental disabilities are included as students in the academic and
social life of colleges and universities of British Columbia.
It is this unique dedication and sense of community that allows all students the ability to embrace the rewards that come with the opportunity to learn. I believe Steps-Forward is a model of what an inclusive community ought to be doing to build the confidence and esteem of all citizens as well as an initiative that has seized a time when our elders lead inclusive communities. With that being said I am honored that I have been given this opportunity to continue a new journey of learning with Steps-Forward.
As each program challenges and inspires the students so does the campus life. Some of the student’s high lights include cultural activities, student perks, our games room, movie nights and by far the most enjoyable piece to NVIT is bringing the family down to enjoy one of our many feasts. As NVIT is unique in design and small in size a sense of community has taken its natural place among students, staff, faculty and our elders.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SUCCESS STORIES?
In June, a young woman completed 5 years of audited studies in Social Work and Sociology. Today she is beginning a paid job with a local social justice research group. She was hired for this position by someone she met while volunteering in her University Women’s Centre. She has skills for the job because of her education and the experience she received at the University Library where she was employed as a student assistant. The graduate sits on her community youth counsel where she completed her social work practicum. She goes for coffee with her past employer because they discovered a shared interest in music and technology.