HU, Huntington schools partner to help local students

HUNTINGTON, Ind. Huntington University is partnering with the Huntington County Community School Corporation (HCCSC) to give students with intellectual disabilities a chance to participate in college life and to obtain hands-on work experience before they transition full time into their communities.

Huntington University's Think College program, called "ABLE" (Achieving Balance in Life Through Education) will welcome six high school students to campus this fall.

"One of the hallmarks of a residential college is that students learn from each other there," said Dr. Del Doughty, interim vice president for academic affairs at HU. "By adding the students of Think College to our campus, we will fulfill that expectation in a new way and at a deeper level, perhaps, than we ever have before."

The Indiana Partnership for Post-Secondary Education and Careers, through Indiana University, has created the program on various Indiana campuses through the support of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community. This is the fourth campus in the state to house the program.

"This will allow us to better serve students with intellectual disabilities between ages of 18 and 22 in a setting that is geared more toward preparation for adulthood," said Tracey Shafer, HCCSC superintendent. "We are excited about the opportunities this partnership with Huntington University and Indiana University provides for our students. Allowing our students to participate in day-to-day activities in a college campus setting will open their eyes to a new world of options as they transition to the world of work."

The HCCSC special services department will work to identify seniors at Huntington North High School for the program. Then, this summer, these students will participate in orientation activities and transition into days on campus in the fall, participating in activities and work experiences within a classroom setting.

Students will be supported by both special services staff from HCCSC and peer mentors from Huntington University.

"Once students acclimate to the campus and the campus gets familiar with the students, amazing friendships, connections and growth for everyone will begin to take place," said Dr. Joni Schmalzried, HU's assistant professor of education and adviser for the ABLE program.

To learn more about Think College, visit