Aggies Elevated students, mentors participate in panel

Program director Sarah Stone, along with students Riley and Natalie, participated in a panel discussion about family and disability.
Program director Sarah Stone, along with students Riley and Natalie, participated in a panel discussion about family and disability.

Two students, a mentor and the program director from Aggies Elevated at Utah State University participated in a panel discussion recently on disability in the family. The discussion took place as part of the Family, Consumer and Human Development (FCHD) 3210: Families and Cultural Diversity class.

“The panel was a good experience this morning,” said program director Sarah Stone. “The class asked really good questions about the program and about Riley and Natalie’s experiences in getting here. They asked some really great questions concerning why the students wanted to come to college, their biggest supporters at home, what they wanted to study, and what they liked to do for fun.”

In answer to this question: “If you could tell everybody something that you wish people knew–go onto a soapbox about this topic–with a captive audience, what would you say?” mentor Mindy Thornley talked about how students with disabilities don’t want to be treated any different than those without.

“My nephew with disabilities just wants people to treat him normally,” she said. “He doesn’t want to stand out.”

Riley, an Aggies Elevated student, agreed.

“I like to play video games and hang out with my friends,” he said. “Why should I be treated differently just because I struggle to read?”

Riley also answered a question about how families with young children can preparet them to reach their fullest potential.

“Just remember, it’s probably harder on the parents than it is on the student,” Riley said. “The student will figure it out. They will find friends, but Mama Bear is always going to be there. My mom is a mama bear, and she wants the best for me, but it’s hard for her to let go.”

*****

Aggies Elevated at Utah State University believes that all individuals, regardless of ability, have the right to meaningful employment, lifelong learning, self-determination and full community inclusion. Utilizing the MyCLIMB (My Career Ladder to Independence, Maturity & Balance) person-centered planning model, Aggies Elevated students, along with invited family members and/or other stakeholders, will chart their own paths toward independence within an individualized framework of supports that identifies challenges, builds on individual strengths and encourages personal responsibility.

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