This article was first published in The Red & Black. To view the article in its original form, please visit The Red & Black Online. Mentioned in this article is Adam Goodman, a junior on the UGA Baseball Team. Adam’s sister inspired him to get involved with Destination Dawgs – a great program that provides students with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to attend college.
Jordan Huffman, a University of Georgia student whose mother captured his excitement upon being accepted to UGA’s Destination Dawgs program in a video that went viral last year, has more news to be excited about.
Huffman was selected to be featured in a video created by the National Down Syndrome Society that will run on a billboard in Times Square throughout the month of October, which is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Huffman is looking forward to October.
“I’m really, really, really, really excited,” he said.
The video is a part of National Down Syndrome Society’s Down Syndrome awareness campaign, which was created to “celebrate people with Down Syndrome and make people aware of our abilities and accomplishments,” the NDSS website said.
Since his acceptance, Huffman has been participating in Destination Dawgs, an inclusive post-secondary education program for students with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Destination Dawgs brought its first class to UGA in January 2017 and is a non-degree certificate program that aims to help students with intellectual or developmental disabilities with the “transition to adulthood,” according J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development website. The J.W. Fanning Institute teams up with Destination Dawgs for a summer leadership institute. Destination Dawgs works out of the Institute on Human Development and Disability in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
The competitive program offers its participants an opportunity to prepare for a career and independent living over the course of five spring and fall semesters.
Huffman and other participants attend UGA courses, gain job skills, have access to UGA email addresses and football tickets and build social networks based on individual plans supported by peer mentors, said Anna Lawrence, the Destination Dawgs program coordinator.
“I love it [the Destination Dawgs Program] a lot,” Huffman said. “It’s a great program because I get to see all my friends from high school and hang out with all my mentors — they are really, really, really nice.”
Adam Goodman, a junior Marketing major from Fayetteville, serves as one of Huffman’s peer mentors.
“You can just tell the kids love it here, they love going to college just like any person would love going to college, and they love learning a lot,” Goodman said. “They get to meet good people too. The mentors have been awesome to them. It’s a great experience for me and a great experience for them.”
According to the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, the Destination Dawgs program was implemented after a 2013-2015 feasibility study on inclusive post-secondary education at UGA.
However, UGA is not the only school that has a program for students with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
“They are starting to open up more programs like this at different schools,” Goodman said. “It is important that kids with disabilities have the same opportunities as other kids to go to college.”
There are currently 268 college programs in the U.S. for students with intellectual disabilities, according to Think College, a national organization that promotes inclusive higher education.
Along with UGA, Kennesaw University, Georgia Southern University and Georgia Institute of Technology offer programs for students with intellectual disabilities.