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.
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.