InclusiveU 10th Anniversary Featured on Bridge Street, WAER Radio

Syracuse celebrates 10th anniversary of InclusiveU

When it comes to inclusivity, Syracuse University is known all over the world as a leader in disability and higher education.

InclusiveU is a program at SU that helps students with intellectual and developmental disabilities get a fully inclusive college experience. This program offers real opportunities for these students to participate in every aspect of campus life.

Director of the program Brianna Shults came on Bridge Street Wednesday morning with John Rorro, an InclusiveU member, to talk about the program and what is coming up.

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SU’s InclusiveU turns ten and plans to keep on expanding

Inclusive U—a Syracuse University program that provides resources to students with developmental and intellectual disabilities, with the goal of offering a “fully inclusive” college experience—turned ten this week. Academic Coordinator Sam Roux said, like similar initiatives around the country, it began as a grassroots efforts to give special needs high schoolers a bridge to higher education.

“A group of parents with students that were receiving supports … basically developed a partnership alongside Syracuse University to get some class access,” said Roux. “So it started out very modest, as just a way for students to be able to take classes at SU.”

Today, InclusiveU’s website boasts 100 enrolled students, nearly half of whom live on campus, says Roux, and they’re winning scholarships and honors, and serving in leadership positions in campus clubs.

Another big change, says Roux, is that in the beginning, “we relied on students to hire and train and bring in their own staff from different agencies. So most of the students were getting support from other people in the community, not SU students.”

Now, says Roux, they employ dozens of students, who share the same interests and hobbies as the InclusiveU students, and can offer more peer-based support, while learning skills that “can transcend a lot of different industries,” including as mentors and student support assistants (SSAs).

Manu Krishnan wishes she had more hours with her SSAs, but overall appreciates what they provide: “They help you out in classes and they take notes for you, and so I hope other students get the same experience I did.”

The first-year student, who has autism, says she also likes the community that InclusiveU offers, from movie and game nights to shooting hoops.

“A fun fact about me is that I play basketball on Sundays with Special Olympics,” said Krishnan.

InclusiveU has opened a Special Olympics chapter at SU and Roux says he’s overseeing an expand to include more sports, and hopefully travel teams that would play other schools around the country that are already competing.

“That would be amazing,” said Roux.

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