The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

Postsecondary option teaches independent living

In the Cache Valley, young adults with developmental disabilities who are eligible for continued special education services have a campus-based postsecondary education option. The Postsecondary Education, Employment, and Research program (PEER) offers18-21 year-old adults opportunities to continue their studies, make new friends, and work along with their college-age peers at Utah State University.

The PEER program has provided an inclusive environment since 2007 for over 51 students enrolled in special education services in Logan and Cache County School Districts.  The program is housed at the Center for Persons with Disabilities and collaborates with the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation-Research personnel preparation program on campus. Logan City and Cache County School Districts operate the program and provide the staff that work with the students.

Currently, seventeen students are enrolled in the PEER Program. While at school, they work on their individual education program (IEP) goals that will help them become more independent and self-reliant. The students work on completing their high school studies, getting their GED, and sometimes even enrolling in college. They become more independent by learning how to ride the local buses or even get their own driver’s license.  They are taught the skills they will need to live independently, like shopping for food and cooking meals, and learning how to stick to a budget and develop wise spending habits.

Employment training is a major part of all the PEER students' schedules.  Employers on the USU campus and in the community benefit from the voluntary (and supervised) work that the PEER students contribute during their work placements. In the first 2 1/2 months of this year, they contributed more than 1,000 hours at work sites, doing jobs that in some cases would not otherwise be filled in the current budgetary climate. So, employment training is a win-win for students and employers.

In addition to learning job skills and becoming more independent, the students also have an opportunity to meet and make new friends by participating in activities on campus and in the community.

The PEER program provides a training ground for young adults to learn what they need to live successful, fulfilled, and happy lives.