This fall, the University of Missouri College of Education and Human Development will launch PAWS (Preparing Adults for Work and Society). This is a residential program for post-secondary students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
One of the few comprehensive programs of its kind in the country, PAWS is modeled after a similar program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Louie — Promotes work, independent living and social skills for people with significantly lower unemployment and lower wages than the general population.
Promote meaningful peer relationships
Maggie Center says: Director of the PAWS program.
“In addition to having a world-class education at MU and being around traditional students, we also want PAWS students to be around traditional students and learn about students with disabilities. is due to a lack of experience on both sides.”
The first class of four MU students may begin in the fall of 2023, and participants will live in dormitories, take college classes, eat in the campus cafeteria, and participate in student organizations. gives you access to the full university experience.
The PAWS Virtual Open House will be held on Zoom on January 25th and January 31st at 6pm.
What’s included in the program
The two-year program allows participants to take PAWS-specific classes. This class will focus on work skills, healthy relationships and sex education, disability history and self-advocacy, independent living, and social skills. In addition, participants may have the opportunity to take traditional classes at MU, including public speaking, drama, financial planning, and human development courses.
“We hear a lot from parents and school districts asking for this type of program, and being one of the few universities to offer it is special,” said Center.
“The short-term benefits are that these students will have the opportunity to live with their peers, have roommates, decide whether to join clubs or attend sporting events, and gain the full college experience. Long-term benefits include self-advocacy and self-confidence building to work and live independently in society.”
Creating New Opportunities for Students PAWS
Center is a certified trauma-informed educator and previously worked with The Resilience Project in Ohio. This project aims to help teenagers and young people recover from the trauma of abuse and neglect. At PAWS, she works with Erica Lembke, Program Faculty Coordinator and Professor of Special Education at her MU College of Education and Human Development.
“We want to create opportunities for participants to strengthen their work and social skills so that when they leave the program they will be more independent and ready for a full-time job. “As a special education teacher since 1993, I have taught many students with intellectual disabilities. Having the opportunity is personal to me.”
laying the groundwork for future participants
The center hopes that the first class of students will eventually become peer mentors for future participants.
“In addition to the academic experience on campus, we provide students with downtime to relax and have fun while learning the practical life skills that come with living independently, such as how to cook and do laundry and manage finances. I want to, exercise and build relationships,” said the center. “This program will be a great asset to the MU community. We are learning that diversity is a strength in building an inclusive community. We want to make it clear to students with disabilities that it is a place where they can make a positive difference in the world.”
PAWS also provides participating parents with an opportunity to build confidence that their child will succeed on their own.
“Watching a child go to college and live independently is difficult for any parent,” said the center. “It may be an adjustment, but parents should know that their students will be given the support and attention they need to thrive and succeed.”
Featured Image: Sean Pavone, iStock.