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KU lands grant to help young adults with disabilities and their families attend college

Monday, November 02, 2015

LAWRENCE — Researchers and educators at the University of Kansas have secured a grant that will help more young people with disabilities attend the university while supporting them and their families in preparing for adulthood and competitive careers.

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education has awarded KU a five-year, $1.5 million grant to establish the KU Transition to Postsecondary Education for Youth with Intellectual Disabilities program. It will not only give students who might not otherwise go to college a chance to get a KU certificate, it will work with both young people and families with the ultimate goal of preparing them for employment, independent living and increased academic and social engagement.

Mary Morningstar, associate professor of special education and principal investigator of the project housed at the Beach Center on Disability through the Lifespan Institute, said KU will initially partner with the Lawrence Public School District and East Central Kansas Education Cooperative to identify students and families who will qualify for the program. The first cohort of students will come to campus in fall 2016. Students age 18 to 21 with intellectual disabilities are either graduating or transitioning to life after high school, including community-based programs to prepare them for employment.

“At 18 most kids are graduating from high school. But young people with disabilities can still be provided services through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,” Morningstar said. “We wanted to apply for this grant because over the years we have heard from parents asking for such a program, and most recently, a mother of an adolescent who wanted her daughter to go to KU. We started talking about what we could do to provide some of the needed services at KU and allowing students to get a credential, and we wanted it to be fully inclusive.”

Students who enroll in KU through what will be known as the KU-TPE Program will go through the same experiences as any first-year student. They’ll take part in programs offered by the Office of First Year Experience to increase the chances of succeeding in college. They’ll also undergo a summer orientation and additional training with their families focused on academic engagement, learning processes, critical thinking, mindsets, interpersonal engagement, and adult roles and responsibilities. The needed supports will be designed in a collaborative effort, utilizing and enhancing existing student services while identifying new and necessary support mechanisms. These will include an array of KU, state agency, community resources and individual funding approaches.

“A major element of our project is not only that the students will be on campus, but that they’re preparing for career readiness. Families will be allowing their young adults to take on more adult roles,” Morningstar said. “That can be hard for any parent.”

Additionally, young adults with disabilities and their families often don’t have the same opportunities as their peers throughout youth. Program participants will work with a number of KU offices including the Academic Achievement and Access Center, University Career Center, AbleHawks, Student Housing, KU Center for Children and Families and many others to learn life skills and successfully navigate the higher education landscape.

“That’s where the support comes in. When young people take these risks, we need to be there to help so they can learn critical thinking skills and good decision-making. That self-determination that comes from these experiences is a major component of the program,” Morningstar said.

PSE program participants will attend the same classes as their peers and will earn KU Experiential Learning Certificates through additional classes with guided experiential learning and guided reflection. Students will also learn essential job skills such as networking, communication, professionalism, teamwork, collaboration and problem-solving as well as adult roles and responsibilities such as financial literacy, accessing community resources, health and wellness, transportation and others, including a collaboration with KU’s scholarship halls.

Like anyone who attends college, students with disabilities who achieve a higher education will have greater access to meaningful, competitive employment in their adult lives. Students who take part in KU’s TPE program will have access to the full college experience, including access to student groups, peer tutors and student advisers. Ultimately, the goal is to build the program into a self-sustaining model that can partner with more districts and be replicated at other Kansas universities.

“Our plan is to develop a model where that young woman can come to KU, be on campus, get the support she needs from several streams and be successful,” Morningstar said. “And any young person on campus can get involved.”


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Art Cart: Painted Fans
Saturday, January 20 | 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Sam and Connie Perkins Central Court, 317
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The Art Cart is a drop-in activity station where children and grown-ups enjoy hands-on art projects together, taking inspiration from original works of art. After traveling the world, Sallie Casey Thayer donated her collection of objects to KU to form what is now the Spencer Museum of Art. Learn about Mrs. Thayer and create a painted folding fan to start your own collection.

Slow Art Sunday: Steel Wool Peignoir
Sunday, January 21 | 2 p.m.-3 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Kemper Family Foundations Balcony, 408
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Slow down at the Spencer and spend time getting to know one great work of art. Slow Art Sunday features one work for visitors to contemplate and converse about with Museum staff. In January, get to know Steel Wool Peignoir by Mimi Smith.

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Wednesday, January 24 | 7:30 p.m.
Free State Brewing Co., 636 Massachusetts St.
The Cambrian is a time in Earth’s history when many modern animal relatives make their first appearance. It is also a time when many bizarre animals without modern relatives appear in the fossil record. At this Science on Tap, Dr. Julien Kimmig will talk about the diversity of animals during this amazing period and what it can teach us about the future of life on earth. 

Career Close-ups: Developing a Career in the Museum World
Friday, January 26 | 2 p.m.-4 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Auditorium 309
1301 Mississippi St.
Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to explore how any major can lead to a career in a cultural organization. A panel of museum professionals will share their experiences, followed by a networking reception and behind-the-scenes tours of KU’s museums. This year’s panelists include: Dina Bennett (Mulvane Art Museum, Washburn University), Glenn North (Black Archives of Mid-America), and Adrianne Russell (Cabinet of Curiosities). Advance registration is required at www.spencerart.ku.edu/career-closeups. Please register by January 24. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/476618689399321/
Sponsored by the Spencer Museum of Art, KU Natural History Museum, University Career Center, and the Museum Studies Program.

Final Friday: Community and Culture Closing Celebration
Friday, January 26 | 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St.
The Watkins, in partnership with the Max Kade Center and the Lawrence Opera Theatre, present an evening of 19th-century German-American music and cuisine.

Discovery Day: Celebrating Kansas
Sunday, January 28 | 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
In honor of Kansas Day, join us for hands-on activities that are all about Kansas wildlife, plants and fossils. 

Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture: An Evening with Eve L. Ewing: Poetry in Context
Wednesday, January 31 | 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St.
Eve L. Ewing is a sociologist, poet, essayist, artist, and educator whose research focuses on racism, social inequality, urban policy, and the impact of these forces on American public schools and the lives of young people. Dr. Ewing earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is recognized as a leader and social influencer, especially in conversations involving academia, writing, black women, and the intersection of politics and popular culture. Sponsored by The Commons.

University in the Art Museum for Graduate Students
Thursday, February 1 | 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, 1301 Mississippi St.
University in the Art Museum introduces graduate students to opportunities for object-based teaching, learning, and research through collaborative partnerships with the Spencer Museum of Art. This workshop includes discussions led by graduate students in the departments of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Geography; and Atmospheric Science. Advance registration is required by Monday, January 29. Register online at https://spencerart.ku.edu/uam.

Extraordinary Animals: Awesome Adaptations
Sunday, February 4 | 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
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At this new monthly animal event, parents and children are invited to learn about animals of Kansas. Museum Animal Specialist Ashley Welton will offer presentations about animal adaptations using touchable specimens from the museums collections at 1:15, 1:45 and 2:15 pm. 

FeBREWary at the Watkins
Thursday, February 15 | 6 p.m.-9 p.m.
Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St.
The Watkins, in partnership with Lawrence Beer Co., presents an evening of beer, food, and knowledge! Enjoy beer and a fascinating talk on brewing provided by Lawrence Beer Co., plus food from local restaurants and an informal museum tour. Tickets are $15 for DCHS members, $20 for non-members. You may sign up online or contact the museum at 785-841-4109. We recommend buying in advance. Ages 21 and over only, please. More information and registration.

Winter Table: An Evening of Herpetology
Wednesday, February 28 | 6:30 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
A celebration of more than 100 years of KU herpetology research programs and the careers of Linda Trueb and Bill Duellman. Explore the Natural History Museum's reptile and amphibian collections and enjoy appetizers and drinks. Dine in the Panorama Gallery with KU herpetology scientists and students conducting reptile and amphibian research across the globe. 

6:30 pm: appetizers, drinks and science salon
7:00 pm: dinner and program
$50 per person 

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