By Shayla Vance
The office of Citizenship and Service-Learning welcomed Bear POWER (Promoting Opportunities for Work, Education and Resilience) as a new signature project this semester. Bear POWER is a new, two-year inclusive program at Missouri State University designed to provide higher education to students age 18-26 with intellectual disabilities. Bear POWER will provide these students with an integrated college experience, including course work, internship-based activities and attending classes with peers. Some of the academic areas students will be able to pursue include:
- Early childhood education
- Hospitality leadership
- Recreation, sport and park administration
After completing an application process, Bear POWER students will partner with a group of Missouri State student volunteers known as Bear Blazers. These student volunteers will provide support as Bear POWER students adjust to academic and social settings at Missouri State University.
Bear POWER is already receiving a warm welcome from the community. Several local organizations are collaborating with this new program, including Arc of the Ozarks, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, Abilities First and Springfield Public Schools. Thanks to these organizations and many other donors, Bear POWER will be able to have up to ten students attending classes by January of 2019.
With the opportunities provided by Bear POWER, students with intellectual disabilities will gain life skills and open doors for future employment. The CASL office looks forward to welcoming all of the future bears to campus and working with Bear POWER to provide students with an exceptional college experience.