LEXINGTON, Ky.—As a first-year student at Transylvania University, Olivia Oakley ’15 of London, Ky., knew she wanted to volunteer. She was drawn to the unique dynamic she discovered at College for Living, an on-campus program that places college students and their developmentally delayed neighbors side-by-side in a creative environment. She has since come to recognize how powerful and rewarding volunteering can be.
Every fall and winter term, students at Transylvania create a college-like experience for local residents with disabilities. The College for Living program provides a special opportunity for high-functioning individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, age 18 or older, to experience attending classes on a college campus.
A program of the university’s Office of Community Service and Civic Engagement, College for Living is largely a student-run enterprise. Classes are organized and taught by students, and at least three student volunteers participate in each class. The ratio of students to community participants helps simulate the experience of working and socializing with college peers.
Classes include drawing, language study, dance, singing, sports, and arts and crafts. Participants and their caregivers enjoy the camaraderie and learning that are at the heart of College of Living.
Jason Smitha, a long-time participant, looks forward to each session. “I love the socialization and getting to see my friends again,” he explains. “I love being involved in helping decide what kind of things to do in craft class. It makes me smile and it makes so many others smile, too.”
Transylvania University has provided volunteers and classroom space for College for Living since 1996.
This term, classes will be held on Tuesday evenings, March 18, March 25, April 1 and April 8, from 6:30-8 p.m., in the Haupt Humanities Building on Transylvania’s campus. A completed application is required to participate in the free program. Caregivers must attend with participants. Call 859-233-8182 for more information.
Free parking is adjacent to the building in the circular drive accessible from North Broadway. A mobility access door is located on the east side of Haupt, facing Haupt Plaza. A curb cut for mobility is located in the Haupt circle parking lot and in the Old Morrison circle parking lot, accessible from Third Street.