My Community-Based Service Learning (CBSL) placement was with the U of R Campus For All Program. Campus For All is a four year inclusive post-secondary education experience for adults with intellectual disabilities. Students in this program attend regular university classes, participate in campus activities, make friends, prepare for the world of work and enjoy the same opportunities as other university students.
The attached video below is an interview with my assigned Campus For All Student in which we discuss his involvement in the program. He explains how one qualifies for the program, what classes he has taken, which ones he has enjoyed and why, what assistance he finds helpful, whether he recommends the program to others and what his future plans are.
It is stated in the ECS Student Handbook that, “service learning is about giving to the community while learning about oneself.” This simple statement developed particular significance for me as the semester progressed. I initially entered this experience with the expectation that I would be solely giving my time to help a student succeed in a university class. I assumed my role would be to assist with notetaking, understanding classroom material and providing help, if necessary, with classroom assignments. However, it quickly became apparent that this experience was so much more than providing a “service” and assistance to another student. Over the semester, I gained an appreciation of how one’s resolve, motivation and fortitude truly determines what one can accomplish. The well-known quote, “you can do anything you set your mind to” is definitely true! I witnessed this first hand while working with “my” student.
It is often assumed that university education is suitable for students of typical intellectual ability who have achieved a certain level of previous academic success. The Campus For All program challenges this assumption and rightfully so. As Faith Savarese, Coordinator for Campus For All stated in a 2016 interview, “Research shows that post-secondary education enhances employment outcomes for individuals who have an intellectual disability, including a wider range of job opportunities and greater pay – just like it does for their peers.” Savarese goes on to say that, “Nearly 70 per cent of Canadians living with a disability are unemployed.” Despite more progress needing to be made in order for the intellectually disabled to achieve equality, programs like Campus for All are beginning to make their mark and are changing these traditional assumptions.
Through this experience and my newly formed friendship, I learned several valuable personal lessons that will carry over to my career as a future educator. Inclusive education is important for intellectually disabled students but is equally valuable for those who are not. There is much to learn from one another.
It is important look past the constructed “labels” students may have been given in order to find out about their individual interests, dreams and goals. No matter how an individual learns or the struggles one faces, everyone has individual strengths and are all capable of learning successes.