Scholars with Diverse Abilities Program

Scholars with Diverse Abilities Program

September 16, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


So, the Scholars with Diverse Abilities Program,
otherwise known as SDAP, is a program set up for people with intellectual disabilities. They come to the university for two years
and it’s inclusive. These students have challenges in areas of
academics and in areas…sometimes of social skills, or things that a lot of us take for
granted in terms of day-to-day routine. So, I’d say what we really want for our
students, the over-arching goal, is that they develop skills in self-advocacy and self-determination,
so that when they finish they are able to communicate about themselves, talk about what
they’re good at, and where they have challenges, and feel okay doing that. And then to learn how to make their own decisions,
appropriate decisions, that will lead them to a more independent life. So, students with intellectual disabilities,
or any disability, tend to be very reliant on their families and the families are strong
advocates for them. We hear a lot of families who after high school
they’re thinking, ‘Wow! What’s going to happen to my child?’ So when families come to us, they’re really
seeking a way for their children to transition into a better life. Before I came to SDAP it was really hard,
but then I started loving it because I love to come here for school. Well, I think she wants her independence. She would like to learn the skills, so that
she can go out and get a job. She’s very social, she likes people. She wants to meet more people and do different
things with them. So this way she can broaden her interests
just like any other freshman that comes to college, so that she’ll learn things that
she may want to do in her life that thus far she hasn’t thought of. At first, I was a bit nervous. But then I met some old friends, so I started
hanging out with them. They’re cool and funny; they make me laugh. When they see me, they call me Queen Victoria. I think the first day Robert I was shy; I
wasn’t very open to people. Robert today, I’m just being myself and
telling it how it is. Robert hopes to learn, here at Appalachian,
more than anything how to survive in the real world. This should teach him how to get along with
people, how to meet different people, how to interact with different people, because
he has a nice personality, he’s a good person, he’s a learner, he wants to learn. Well, I think my momma is very glad that I
went to college and get to experience the college life and meet different people and
make friends. You know, he doesn’t want to be known as
being different. He wants the same opportunities as everybody
else, but he doesn’t want anything given to him. It gives them a goal that, ‘I can do this. If I work hard, I can be just like her. If that’s what I want, that means I’ve
got to work twice as hard and I can do it.’ That’s why I think this program, the way
it’s set up, it’s going to give them hope and that’s what everybody needs to be a
better person. The student supports that are volunteers come
in huge numbers, and we have over a hundred and if we break that down on a weekly basis,
there are up to ten people working with each individual in the program per week. The volunteers that work with SDAP…I’ve
been amazed to see how many there are on campus. So many students want to get involved, want
to help, want to learn, want to be friends with the scholars in the program. They could be walking a scholar to a class
to show them where the classroom is, it could be meeting them for lunch, just hanging out,
talking, being friends really. I always have a volunteer, or someone to come
with me to take notes or if I need other help in the classroom I’ve always got somebody
in class to help me. Appalachian talks about diversity a lot, as
do many college campuses. We can learn about disability rights, minority
rights, all the different aspects there are to diversity. You can learn about them all day in a class
room, but to truly understand the importance of diversity you have to have relationships
with people who belong to those minorities. SDAP strives really hard to integrate community
into the scholars lives, and I think the scholars and the other students of Appalachian both
benefit a lot from that. Well, I’d like to thank my momma and I’d
like to give a big thank you to the SDAP staff to give me the opportunity to have the college
experience.