What are the Goals of Bear POWER?
The ultimate goal of the Bear POWER program is:
- Students will gain meaningful employment upon graduation.
- Students will live independently upon graduation.
Raising Expectations and Transitioning from High School
Bear POWER was created with the intent to raise expectations for students with IDD, and to encourage the development of post-secondary transition programs for students with IDD following high school. Currently, there are few options for students with IDD upon graduation. Talking with our applicants this year, some were put in contact with career or Vocational Rehabilitation services, but many were expected to go from high school student one day, to employed adult the next. Transition programs such as Bear POWER give students a typical experience through which they can explore their interests, independence, and strengths along same-age peers. There are now four transition programs in Missouri, all of which aim to bridge the gap between high school and employment: helping students with IDD to gain marketable skills in areas of their choice.
Learning Outcomes Within the Four Pillars and Access to Supports
In addition to traditional academic work and job readiness training, many learning outcomes occur outside the classroom. We want to see students learning within the Four Pillars of Bear POWER: academic, job readiness, social, and independent living. We wrote a blog post in April focusing on those pillars, which you can access here.
Bear POWER seeks to provide support for students within the Four Pillars and beyond. Supports will be tailored for each student, and are aimed at helping them succeed in a college environment. We will do this by utilizing existing campus resources any time we can, rather than creating our own. This promotes engagement campus-wide, as well as full inclusion of our students. We realize that each student will need support in differing areas, and our goal is to fade those supports as is appropriate as students progress through the program. One way we wrap supports around students is through our Bear Blazers peer mentorship program. A team of Bear Blazers will work with each Bear POWER student in varying roles (e.g., health/wellness, academic support, and social skills/pragmatics). As these peer mentors are typical Missouri State students, we feel they will provide Bear POWER students with a way to plug into campus and make friendships. We also hope these experiences encourage our students to feel comfortable advocating for themselves when they are successful on their own, and when they may need more support. You can access our blog post about Bear Blazers here.
Students in the Bear POWER program will be learning, but that learning also creates a ripple effect across campus. We are excited to see how relationships with our students impact other Missouri State students, faculty, and staff. We can’t wait for Bear POWER students to help make our campus a more welcoming and diverse place for all students.