FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — A nonprofit organization is helping students with intellectual disabilities get the full college experience.
The students in the program get to eat, work out, and attend classes at the university.
“They are just ridiculously excited,” Life Styles Director of Adult Development Lindsay Broshears said.
Broshears was hired to start the program 11 years ago after a young man’s family went to Life Styles for help because there wasn’t an opportunity for their son, who has down syndrome, here in Northwest Arkansas.
According to Broshears, the family said their son wanted to go to the U of A after his senior year just like his siblings and so Life Styles and the University of Arkansas came together and put together this program.
“It was the first one in the state of Arkansas to kind of envision a collegiate program,” she said.
Eleven years later the program has took off, and this year there are 21 students enrolled.
“I’m excited about the first day, I’m not nervous,” said Brandon Baskin, who is starting his first year in the program.
According to Broshears, the classes the students take focus on independent living and social skills.
“Math, money, budgeting, all the things that they need to be more independent,” she said.
These skills help set up students like Serah Jeppsen, for what is to come next. She has been in the program for four years.
“After college I am going to get married, get a job, a car, and a house too,” Jeppsen said.
Broshears said it doesn’t matter if the students are like Frankie Quinn, starting their first year of the program, or if they are like Jeppsen and have been in the program longer.
“The older students are all really receptive to the incoming students, it really feels more like a family,” Broshears said.
“I’m excited because I get to make friends,” Quinn said.
“I’m so happy to be a fourth year,” Jeppsen said.
On Monday, August 26, the students in the Launch program will start classes like the rest of the student body.