BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Six high school students with intellectual disabilities will be attending an orientation program this spring and summer at Huntington University. This coming fall those students, from Huntington North High School, will also be new members of the campus community in Huntington, Ind.
Like several other colleges around the state, Huntington is working with Indiana University’s Institute for Disability and Community and its Center on Community Living and Careers to build hands-on work and academic experiences for students with intellectual disabilities before they transition to jobs and adult life after high school.
The Indiana Institute, part of the Indiana Partnership for Postsecondary Education and Careers, is helping Huntington University establish a partnership with the Huntington County Community School Corp., southeast of Fort Wayne. The program developed by the partnership will be known as ABLE -- Achieving Balance in Life Through Education.
"One of the hallmarks of a residential college is that students learn from each other there," said Del Doughty, interim vice president for academic affairs at Huntington University. "By adding the ABLE students to our campus, we will fulfill that expectation in a new way and at a deeper level, perhaps, than we ever have before."
The Huntington County Community School Corp. special services department is working to identify ABLE candidates, students with intellectual disabilities who are typically in their final year at Huntington North High School.
"This will allow us to better serve students with intellectual disabilities between the ages of 18 and 22 in a setting that is geared more toward preparation for adulthood," said Tracey Shafer, superintendent of the school corporation. "We are excited about the opportunities this partnership with Huntington University and Indiana University provides for our students. Allowing our students to participate in day-to-day activities in a college campus setting will open their eyes to a new world of options as they transition to the world of work."
Beginning in the fall, the ABLE students will spend eight months on campus, participating in activities, work experiences and classroom settings. Students will be supported by special services staff from the school corporation and peer mentors from Huntington University.
"Once students acclimate to the campus, and the campus becomes familiar with the students, amazing friendships, connections and growth for everyone will begin to take place," said Joni Schmalzried, an assistant professor of education at Huntington University and advisor for the ABLE program.
This is the fifth university now working to build a successful college/work experience program in Indiana for students with disabilities. Other collaborative university partners around the state are Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Vincennes University Jasper Campus in south central Indiana; Franklin College, in Central Indiana; and Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion.
The effort is part of a nationwide initiative, coordinated by Think College. In order to provide information and resources to students, families, and professionals, the Indiana Partnership for Postsecondary Education and Careers has its own Think College Indiana website.
About Huntington University
Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S. News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest, and Forbes.com has listed the university as one of America’s Best Colleges. Additionally, Princeton Review has named the institution to its “Best in the Midwest” list. Founded in 1897 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Huntington University is located on a contemporary, lakeside campus in northeast Indiana. The university is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
About the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community
The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana's University Center for Excellence on Disabilities, works to increase community capacity in disability through academic instruction, research, dissemination and training, and technical assistance. With a focus on employment, secondary education, and transition to adult life and services, the Indiana Institute’s Center on Community Living and Careers brings positive change to people with disabilities and their families as they work and participate in their communities.
About the Office of the Vice Provost for Research
The Indiana Institute receives support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Indiana University Bloomington, which is dedicated to supporting ongoing faculty research and creative activity, developing new multidisciplinary initiatives and maximizing the potential of faculty to accomplish path-breaking work.