Katy Andersen, director of the D.R.I.V.E. program, John Luppino, special education instructor, Caleb, a D.R.I.V.E. student, and Dr. Beth Jordan, assistant professor of occupational therapy, recently spread the word of the College's D.R.I.V.E. program at a Rochester-area college fair. (photo provided by Dr. Beth Jordan).
While the word “playhouse” might conjure up memories of childhood summers in the backyard, or a place to catch a bit of theater (spoiler alert: the butler did it), GiGi’s Playhouse Rochester is more about business. The playhouse aims to empower those with Down syndrome and their families to reach their highest potential.
Members of Keuka College’s D.R.I.V.E. program recently took a road trip to the playhouse to tell their story at a college fair held for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Behind the wheel were Katy Andersen, director of the D.R.I.V.E. program, John Luppino, special education instructor, Caleb, a D.R.I.V.E. student, and Dr. Beth Jordan, assistant professor of occupational therapy.
GiGi’s Playhouse of Rochester and Roberts Wesleyan College sponsored the first of what is to be an annual event, held Nov. 18. It included representatives from Monroe Community College and Nazareth College.
“D.R.I.V.E. has been on campus for many years,” says Dr. Jordan. “It was one of the first programs of its kind to offer an on-campus experience for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our goal [with this fair] was initially undetermined, as we didn’t know what to expect.”
But Dr. Jordan didn’t need to worry; there was plenty of interest from those in attendance. They’ve already received a request from a family for a campus tour.
“We walked away having made connections to many families, and shared what D.R.I.V.E. has to offer,” says Dr. Jordan. “We hope to grow the student enrollment in D.R.I.V.E., which currently has spots available.”
Dr. Jordan believes Keuka College’s D.R.I.V.E. program is life-changing and powerful, as there are limited opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities as they transition from high school to adult life.
“Keuka College’s D.R.I.V.E. program provides individuals with an on-campus college experience, one where students can take college classes, interact and engage in college experiences, and interact with other students close to their age,” says Dr. Jordan.
Currently, students are on campus daily for classes, but the D.R.I.V.E. steering committee is revving up in hopes of providing students opportunities to engage in the full college experience.
“One of the concerns that we heard from almost every family member we spoke with was how their child would be transported to and from Keuka College, and some families wanted their student to have the opportunity to live on campus,” says Dr. Jordan.
In the meantime, events such as the college fair help spread the word about the D.R.I.V.E. program.
“We met and talked with many amazing individuals and their families,” says Dr. Jordan, who was also appreciative for the networking opportunities with colleagues. “We plan to meet again in the near future to discuss opportunities for individuals transitioning from high school, and look forward to the next event. We had a great turnout of those interested in gaining a college experience at Keuka College.”