The Ferris division of the Ready for Life program is looking for student volunteers and employees to assist Ready for Life Academy students in classwork and basic life skills.
The Ready for Life Academy is a program for adults aged 18-26 with an intellectual disability. The program allows these adults to attend college while building the life skills they need to live independently. This is the first year the program has been running at Ferris.
“The Ready for Life students have the same goals as every other Ferris student, [and they share] many common interests with students across campus,” Deedee Stakely, the director of the Office of Transfer and Secondary Partnerships, said. “Ferris students may find that getting to know a Ready for Life student just might be the start of a true friendship. All of us are searching for our sense of belonging. The Ready for Life students want to experience that sense of belonging and reciprocal friendship with other Ferris students.”
The program is looking for student volunteers and employees to help program participants with schoolwork and independent living skills. Student volunteers would assist with homework and join program participants in on-campus activities and meals.
Student employees would work with participants on life skills such as time management, doing laundry, grocery shopping and others. Student employees must complete training provided by the Ready for Life program.
“There are no specific requirements except for compassion and a desire to learn,” Stakely said. “All of the training will be provided and paid for by the program. Experience working or interacting with individuals who have intellectual disabilities is not a requirement.”
The Ferris division of the program began after President Eisler learned about it while at an event at Hope College. Stakely says that President Eisler felt that the program aligned with Ferris’ values and would be a good addition to the school. Stakely and former Provost Dr. Paul Blake became key stakeholders.
There are currently six students participating in the program. The goal is for the program to allow for there to be ten first year participants and ten second year participants. Participants would be in the pro- gram for two years.
“Ready For Life students are truly Ferris students, and as such are entitled to the same resources and services that all students receive or have access to,” Stakely said. “In addition, Ferris has provided space for the Ready for Life classroom, established the Ready for Life Advisory Board and connected the students and staff to programs and services on campus, such as Educational Counseling and Disability Services, Tutoring, CLACs etc. Ferris has provided the same opportunity for the Ready for Life Academy at FSU as any other Ferris student.”
The Ready for Life program aims to provide equal opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities, as well as to make them feel included on campus. Participants will ideally make lifelong friendships, build confidence and build maturity. This is in addition to providing participants with the skills necessary for independent living and paid employment. There are additional divisions of the Ready for Life program at Hope College and Calvin University.
“Inclusion occurs when everyone is given the same opportunities, regardless of their differences,” Stakely said. “The partnership between Ready for Life and Ferris State University creates an expanded form of inclusion that expands into higher education. Every student at Ferris brings unique experiences and value to the campus community and to higher education… This unique partnership between Ready for Life and Ferris State University provides an opportunity for young adults with intellectual disabilities with an opportunity to live and learn on an inclusive campus where everyone can learn from each other.”
More information on the Ready for Life Academy and its volunteer and employment opportunities can be found on the Ready for Life webpage on the Ferris website. Students can email Sandy Baker at SandraBaker@nullfsu.edu for information on volunteer opportunities. Students can also email Brittany Gwisdala at BrittanyGwisdala@nullfsu.edu for information on employment opportunities.
Jessica Oakes contributed to the reporting of this article.