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Press Release for Tuesday, April 24, 2007

UNF and Arc Jacksonville Create Unique College Program

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

Recruitment for a new college program for students with developmental disabilities is in full swing in Jacksonville thanks to a partnership between The Arc Jacksonville and University of North Florida. The On Campus Transition (OCT) Program offers students with developmental disabilities the opportunity to experience college life, participate in campus activities, audit college classes and be mentored by fellow UNF students.

A stepping-stone in the journey towards independence, this program will give students the opportunity of a college experience and progress towards an independent lifestyle. Through exposure to their non-disabled peers, OCT students can gain valuable life-enhancing skills in the areas of finance, scheduling, transportation and more. Students are given the opportunity to audit classes of their choice and participate in various internships or jobs that meet their capabilities, skills, and interests.

“The new program proves mutually beneficial as it allows UNF students the opportunity to mentor the OCT students, while also gaining appreciation for the additional struggles these individuals must endure in order to achieve their goals,” said Charlotte Temple, director of advocacy for The Arc Jacksonville.

The idea for the program sparked more than two years ago when UNF associate professor of education Dr. Kristine Webb and Temple began discussing how young people with disabilities could greatly benefit from the same exposure typical young adults encounter.

“I am tremendously optimistic and excited about the OCT program and the direction the program has established within our UNF community,” said Webb. “The benefits for the students enrolled in the OCT program are numerous and comprehensive. I believe the advantages for UNF students, faculty, and staff are of equal importance because of the firsthand information and insight OCT students can provide.”

Funding for the OCT Program is provided through The Arc Jacksonville Academy, which will provide the teacher and other support services while UNF provides the space for the center in the heart of campus activities.

“Given the benefits to this exceptional program, popularity is sure to increase as interested students learn about this new college transition experience here in North Florida,” said Temple.

Individuals age 18 to 21 who have a developmental disability and have completed high school course work are eligible to participate in the On Campus Transition Program. Additional requirements include the ability to travel independently, eligibility for SSI/SSDI, personal means of transportation, and previous community work experience (volunteer or paid). For more information, call 904-620-3890.

The Arc Jacksonville is a charitable non-profit organization founded in 1963 and is dedicated to helping people with development disabilities become physically, mentally, socially and economically independent. Their mission is to provide advocacy and quality services that enable people with developmental disabilities to achieve their full potential, enhance their quality of life, and be active participants in their communities.