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Queen's education program promotes inclusivity

Thanks to a partnership with the Faculty of Education, students from H’art have a unique opportunity to study on the Queen’s campus and work with students from a number of faculties. H’art participants work toward a five-year Certificate of Learning in the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Initiative (IPSE) of the Faculty of Education.

H’art is a local non-profit, charitable organization helping people with intellectual disabilities reach their highest potential through education and the arts.

“Our job is about lighting the fire of learning and empowering these students,” says Toni Thornton, H’art inclusive post-secondary education coordinator. “This is a meaningful model of inclusion.”

The adults with intellectual disabilities who attend H’art may work for years to get ready to take part in the IPSE program at Queen’s. They are matched, according to their interest and abilities, with a variety of classes on campus including science, technology, drama, philosophy and health.

Once enrolled in the program, H’art students participate alongside Queen’s students and work towards a certificate reflecting their class participation. For even more support on campus, the H’art students are paired with a buddy from the Social Transition and Education Program (STEP), a student-led club with a mission to help students with intellectual disabilities integrate into the Queen’s community.

“I’m excited because I proved something to myself. I learned how to behave in a class. It makes me proud that I could do everything the professor asked,” says H’art graduate Lori Allum. “I learned how to use computers, which I was scared of before. I am less quiet now; I can talk to other students. I liked that the other students were so supportive.”

Queen’s is a leader in this type of programming and all faculty participants volunteer their time to make the program work.

“The students that come here feel a part of Queen’s University and our students enjoy working with them,” says Stephen Elliott, Dean, Faculty of Education. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for the H’art students to learn in a university setting and our students also learn a lot from them in return.”

This year, two H’art students are graduating from the IPSE program. They will receive their certificates at a ceremony Friday, April 26 starting at 11 am, the last day of term for the Faculty of Education.