Poster highlights CPD youth programs

January 26, 2016 by Sue Reeves

AUCD6A poster presented at a recent Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD) conference highlighted three programs at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities that empower, elevate and offer experiences to youth with disabilities. The poster was presented by Judith Holt, Jeff Sheen and Sarah Bodily.

The New Ideas for Networking Junior Advocates (NINJA) conference brings together youth from across Utah who are involved in the Utah Statewide Independent Living Center (USILC) youth groups. The NINJA conference emphasizes leadership and advocacy skills for youth with disabilities.

Aggies Elevated is an inclusive college experience for young adults with intellectual disabilities. The program, now in its second year, serves 11 students who live in campus housing, take college classes with their typical peers and participate in campus activities. The program was recently awarded a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for expansion.

Project PEER (Post-secondary Education, Employment & Research), currently in its 10th year, provides an environment in which young people learn, research happens and volunteerism thrives. It offers work experience and opens doors for students with disabilities, allowing them to participate in post-secondary education.

Tags: , ,

DLC produces transition report

June 19, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Image of three students walking, and pushing one in a wheelchair.

Project PEER students at USU.

The Disability Law Center, a Salt Lake City-based non-profit organization that is Utah’s designated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agency, has produced a report on transition in the state of Utah. In the report, the DLC explores opportunities and barriers to the success of students with disabilities in competitive and integrated employment. It also provides insights from students, parents, rural communities, agencies, higher education, employers, and academics. Promising practices, challenges, and recommendations are provided in each area.

The DLC report recognized successes in school districts and programs that recognized and worked with student strengths and interests during transition planning, worked to increase parent involvement, generated positive employment experiences, utilized the support of state agencies, and programs located at universities, colleges and technical schools. The report mentioned two programs located at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities: Project PEER (Post-secondary education, employment and research) and Aggies Elevated.

The report also made recommendations for improvements throughout the state.

To download an electronic version of the report, click here.

To visit the Disability Law Center web site, click here.


Tags: , , , ,

Aggies Elevated receives Sorenson grant

May 29, 2015 by Sue Reeves

A group of Aggies Elevated students.

Aggies Elevated program director Sarah Bodily (center) with a group of students. The program recently received a Sorenson Legacy Foundation grant.

Aggies Elevated, an inclusive college experience for young adults with intellectual disabilities, based at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, was recently named the recipient of a $100,000 grant from the Salt Lake City-based Sorenson Legacy Foundation.

“Becoming sustainable is a challenge we face daily with Aggies Elevated,” said Sarah Bodily, program director for Aggies Elevated. “We want to be here to support students for many years to come, and funding such as this grant from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation will allow us to continue. We are beyond grateful for the money from this foundation. It will allow us to provide daily supports for our Aggies Elevated students.”

The Sorenson Legacy Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation established by James LeVoy Sorenson and his wife Beverley for the purpose of promoting charitable, artistic, religious, educational, literary and scientific endeavors. The foundation’s board meets quarterly to consider grant applications. Grant applications are judged on several criteria, including:

–Assist the disenfranchised of society, such as but not limited to, abused spouses and children, in order that they receive the full benefits of membership in society and fulfill their potential as human beings; and

–Advance the programs at private and state universities and colleges that are consistent with the foundation’s charter.

“Through this grant the Sorenson Legacy Foundation is having a direct and profound impact on the lives of our students,” said Shane Johnson, CPD associate director of development, who submitted the grant proposal. “This funding is vital to helping us sustain the Aggies Elevated program and helps ensure that another class of students will get to have the same life-changing experience that our first Aggies Elevated class is having now. We are very grateful to the Sorenson Legacy Foundation board members for supporting this program and we are excited to demonstrate to them how big an impact this grant will have on the lives of our students.”


Congratulations, graduates!

April 28, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Student With Diploma Shows GraduationGraduation is this Saturday—congratulations to these CPD graduates!

Rachel Anderson is from Mendon, Utah and works with StartSmart. She will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Science and plans to attend Idaho State University’s physician assistant school in the fall.

McKadee Douglass is from Smithfield, Utah, and works with ASSERT as a teacher. She will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Family, Consumer and Human Development, and will move to Florida following graduation to work at Walt Disney World, running children’s activities.

Heather Harris is from Brigham City, Utah, and works at ASSERT as a lead instructor. She will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Family, Consumer and Human Development with an emphasis in Human Development Lifespan. She will work at Logan River Academy as a mentor.

Lindsey Lombard is from Chicago, Ill., and is a mentor with Aggies Elevated. She graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. In addition to working with Aggies Elevated, she works at Old Navy in Logan.

Dorothy Peacock is from Cedar City, Utah, and works with StartSmart. She will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and plans to move to Wyoming to start her career.

Shaylee Skillicorn is from Bountiful, Utah, and works with StartSmart. She will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and is looking for a position as a human resource professional or in management.

Savannah Thompson is from Blackfoot, Idaho, and works with ASSERT. She will graduate with bachelor’s degrees in German and Psychology. She plans to continue her education with a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and a doctorate in Clinical Counseling Psychology.

Christa Vance is from Bountiful, Utah, and works with StartSmart. She graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree in Family, Consumer, Human Development with an emphasis in Family Finance. She plans to continue her education and work in the field of family finance.

Tags: ,

Aggies Elevated to be subject of documentary

April 13, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Image of visitor and student.

Filmmaker Ben Stamper observes during a recent Aggies Elevated class.

A documentary filmmaker from New York City will be at Utah State University the week of April 20 to document the Center for Persons with Disabilities’ Aggies Elevated program.

Ben Stamper visited the campus recently to learn more about the program, and spent a day with the students and program staff. Stamper learned about Aggies Elevated through Beth Foley, dean of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. Foley is also acting as associate producer of another film he’s creating about an artist on the autism spectrum.

“I’m excited about this project,” Stamper said. “It seems like a good fit for me to make, after seeing what you’re doing out here. My goal is to create a dialogue, and ultimately to expect more from people with disabilities. Disability is only a small section of this life. It doesn’t define who they are or what they’re about. We need to instill respect for people by seeing their perspective … Respect and dignity is at the heart of it.”

Stamper envisions a student-centric approach to filming.

“It will really be from the students’ perspective–why they’ve come here and what they’re getting out of it, rather than the type of approach that promotes what it is from everyone else’s perspective,” he said.

During his recent visit, Stamper sat in on a meeting between Aggies Elevated student Jenna and her mentor, Shelby Foster, and was impressed with the amount of information that was covered.

“They talked about four or five different areas, from social strategies to schedules to homework to accountability with health habits, to life goals and planning for extracurricular activities,” he said. “I was impressed with Shelby–she really had a handle on providing accountability with no judgment. She told Jenna, ‘the important thing is that you’re honest with yourself.’ It was more the spirit of ‘this is important to do for yourself.’”

Stamper’s visit showed him the program’s expectations for the students always push them outward.

“(Staff) provide support, but real challenge,” he said. “That’s how any of us learn. This is not failure. As a parent, the hardest thing to do is to stand back and watch a child fail. Aggies Elevated provides something that’s very different than a parent can provide in a home environment. I imagine this transforms (the parents’) view and approach of parenting as well.”

For more information on Stamper and his work, click here.