Program helps students with disabilities

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Students who normally would not have the chance to go to college now have the opportunity through a program at Columbus State University.  The unique program gives high school graduates with intellectual or developmental disabilities a chance at going to college.

GOALS student Shawna Johnson wants to be a daycare teacher.

“It means I’ll be one step closer to fulfilling what I really want to do in life,” Shawna said.

Shawna’s college is made possible through the GOALS program.  It’s a two-year certification that allows students the opportunity to work toward achieving their goals of finding a job.

Greg Blalock works very closely with the students.  He says part of the program’s success is making the students feel included.

“They pay for classes and sit in the same classes that any other student would take here at the university so it’s an inclusive program.  It’s not a separate program,” Blalock said.

Toni Johnson mentors the students in the GOALS program.  She said the program is not only good for the students, but others as well.

“This provides the opportunity for our teacher candidates to have hands on experience just socializing and getting to know a diverse population of individuals,” Johnson said.

There are no scholarships available through the state for the GOALS program since it is a two-year program to earn a certificate and not a degree.  Blalock is working with other organizations toward making scholarships possible.

A campaign to raise private funding to support students in the GOALS program starts next week.

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