VICTORIA - Up to 25 students with developmental disabilities will now have the opportunity to attend classes and gain campus experiences at B.C. colleges and universities under a two-year, $400,000 investment with STEPS Forward's BC Initiative for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education, funded by Community Living BC (CLBC).
Over the next two years, CLBC will evaluate the program to find out how well it enables students to pursue employment, build relationships and use the natural supports available.
STEPS Forward's BC Initiative for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education is a unique organization that helps youth with developmental disabilities participate in classes and all aspects of campus life using the support of classmates, professors and other resources, to encourage inclusive, university-level experiences. It's the only known organization of this kind in B.C.
The goal is to help students with developmental disabilities integrate more easily into campus life, community activities and workplaces. The organization provides personal support for each student to attend classes, do homework and exams, as well as to identify a career goal and find employment related to their studies.
This funding for STEPS Forward will support government's ongoing work to improve services and supports for people with developmental disabilities and their families. It will help deliver on recommendations in the 12-point plan released earlier this year, which includes improving support for transitioning youth, increasing employment planning and supporting innovation.
Moira Stilwell, Minister of Social Development -
"Supporting the work of STEPS Forward directly helps youth with developmental disabilities continue on through college or university, and achieve greater independence, gain educational experience and employment planning."
Doug Woollard, interim CEO, Community Living BC -
"It is fitting that during Community Living Month, we are able through STEPS Forward to give students a chance to pursue their learning and career goals in a way that enriches diversity on campus for all students."
"This investment will give CLBC the opportunity to evaluate the success STEPS Forward has had in connecting young people to student and campus life, and career paths, to determine if this model should be more widely available across the province."
Tamara Hurtado, STEPS Forward executive director -
"Inclusive campuses are good places for young people with developmental disabilities to become valued citizens and prepare for satisfying careers."
"We are extremely pleased to have this stable funding and would like to thank CLBC and the government of B.C. for enabling us to focus on supporting young adults to develop skills, make friends and prepare for their careers at their local post-secondary college or university."
Judith Mosoff, parent and past president, STEPS Forward -
"Going to college or university on an inclusive basis means our sons and daughters sit in classes beside B.C.'s future doctors, teachers, employers and government leaders. In the diverse community that makes up the post-secondary campus, our sons and daughters learn, laugh, hang out and take up their rightful place among their peers as valued citizens of the college or university."
"As with other young adults, the inclusive post-secondary experience fosters the relationships, development of curiosity and confidence that lead to a richer life."
- Established in 2001, STEPS Forward is a family-led, non-profit organization that uses natural supports to help young adults participate in classes and campus life.
- Natural supports can include students' peers, faculty, campus staff, student services, fitness, sports or other interest clubs and societies, as well as on-campus employment and career services.
- STEPS Forward supports young adults with developmental disabilities who want to pursue post-secondary education regardless of their level of academic ability or achievement.
- Universities and colleges participating in the evaluation include: Emily Carr University of Art + Design, University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the Okanagan, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria and Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.
For more information on STEPS Forward, visit: www.steps-forward.org/
For regular updates about the progress government is making on the 12-point plan, visit: www.sd.gov.bc.ca/pwd/isst.html.
Every October is Community Living Month in B.C. To see the 2012 proclamation, visit: www.qp.gov.bc.ca/statreg/oic/2012%20Proclamations/procs/CommunityLiving2012.htm
Ministry of Social Development
Community Living BC