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Kneeling, L to R: John Feidner, Melissa Price, Jewley Spencer, Matt Klein, Patrick Chmela, Keith Holmes.
Standing, L to R: Andrew Sass, Jenna Diskin, Krista Coburn, Tyler Bush, Robert Maplesden, Jonathan Kee, Elimary Vazquez, Fred Young, Mariely Vazquez, Chris Scheib, Emily Cook, Lauren Daly, Bea Rhodes.
A GREAT Day for Students with Disabilities
Tuesday, April 16th was a GREAT Day for inclusion on the SUNY Geneseo campus, as about two dozen young people with disabilities shared their aspirations and accomplishments to an audience of faculty, family, and peers.
The students, who are enrolled in a college-recognized program called LIVES (Learn Independence, Vocational, and Educational Skills), related their experiences working alongside non-disabled peers and preparing for life after graduation to a near-capacity audience in Newton Hall. The presentation was part of Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement & Talent (GREAT) Day, a college-wide symposium celebrating students' creative and scholarly endeavors.
The LIVES Program is an educational and vocational initiative for students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities. It is funded through a collaborative partnership with the college, Hilltop Industries (a division of The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming), Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GVEP), and Finger Lakes Developmental Disabilities Services Office.
LIVES students follow the same four-year structure as their traditional counterparts. Their GREAT Day presentation was divided into four sections that illustrated students' growth from their Freshman through Senior years.
Freshmen presented "Comparing Strengths and Struggles with Geneseo Students," which contrasted everyday challenges for students with disabilities to those of their non-disabled peers. Second year students focused on the skills are required to be a productive student, drawing from their experiences auditing college courses and taking part in internships. Juniors explored "What the Future Holds: Looking at Life After Graduation," where students discussed how internships at the campus library, dining hall, bookstore, and fitness center are helping them to prepare for the work world.
Representing the LIVES Senior class, Jewley Spencer discussed what it takes to be an effective role model, drawing from her own educational and social growth through the LIVES Program. After her 10-minute talk, Jewley presented a bouquet of flowers to Dr. Elizabeth Hall, a SUNY Geneseo faculty member who established the LIVES program five years ago, and has served as a role model for the group.
Following the large session, a smaller group of LIVES students headed to the MacVittie College Union, where they conducted mini-presentations that focused on their personal passions. John Feidner's topic was technology, Ellen Beinsheim discussed heart surgery, Andrew MacDonald tackled speech therapy, Tyler Gerace spoke about hair loss from the medical condition Alopecia, and Dustin Fredericy discussed the hidden intricacies of professional wrestling.
For more information on the LIVES Program, visit www.geneseo.edu/lives.