DENVER (CBS4)– There’s a plan at the state Capitol to give children with developmental disabilities a better chance of getting into college.
The measure would set up the first inclusive higher education program in Colorado. Right now, the state is only one of three that doesn’t have one. If some lawmakers have their way, the University of Colorado, University of Northern Colorado and Arapahoe Community College would all have programs by this fall.
“I hope to continue my education in Colorado, to find meaningful, productive work, to have a family and to be the kind of active student our society needs,” said Connor Long.
Long testified on Wednesday before a Senate Committee and told lawmakers that he’s an actor, athlete, advocate and aspiring college student.
Long is among 6,000 students in Colorado who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Many of them have dreams of higher education but in Colorado, there isn’t a single inclusive campus.
“After successfully growing up with your peers in an inclusive world, the door to that world shuts significantly the day after graduation and for most, the best years of their life are now behind them and as a community we cannot be okay with that,” said Colorado Initiative for Inclusive Higher Education spokeswoman Beth Leon.
A bill by Sen. Bill Cadman and Sen. John Cooke would change that and create a pilot program aimed at integrating students, like Long, academically and socially into typical college life and preparing them for a job in their area of study.
“I think science would be a good choice for me,” said Long.
Long said he knows it won’t be easy, “Going to college takes a lot of courage, discipline and confidence.”