BRIDGES is a new, alternative pathway to college offered by SUNY Orange. Based on the belief that individuals with disabilities should be able to experience higher education and that they have the potential to benefit from it, BRIDGES teaches individuals with developmental disabilities the skills and strategies they need to transition to successful, independent lives.
The Program is an individualized, inclusive, community-based college experience for students with developmental disabilities who wish to continue their education in an integrated collegiate environment.
BRIDGES outcomes goal is to prepare students for a life of dignity that includes meaningful work, independent living and self-advocating to achieve their individual goals and dreams. The curriculum is a non-matriculated, certificate program that offers extensive learning in five areas: vocational, social/emotional, self-advocacy, academic, and living skills.
Over the course of six semesters, students complete 36 classes. Each semester, five classes are offered in each of the program focus areas. Students may also audit one credit class of their choosing accompanied by a peer mentor.
BRIDGES’ is a highly individualized program that incorporates person centered planning. Perhaps the best description of person centered planning is by Cornell University, which states, “Person-centered planning is a process-oriented approach to empowering people with disability labels. It focuses on the people and their needs by putting them in charge of defining the direction for their lives, not on the systems that may or may not be available to serve them.”
Person centered planning enables students with disabilities to choose their own paths to achieving their own definition of success. The role of family, friends, members of a student’s circle of support, and, of course, the BRIDGES staff, is to help students devise a plan and brainstorm the steps necessary to achieve it. Student goals are always of paramount importance.
Upon enrolling in BRIDGES, students complete an extensive assessment and a plan is drawn up that lists their vocational, educational and life goals. From then on, the curriculum is tailored to what students seek to achieve.
BRIDGES is inclusive. The curriculum weaves in opportunities to maximize socialization and community involvement. Students have access to and are encouraged to avail themselves of all SUNY Orange’s amenities such as courses, clubs, activities, dining, movement science, and the library. In addition, peer mentors offer natural supports to assist students in their social, vocational and academic endeavors.
Families are strongly encouraged to contact the Program Director, Patricia Bassey, at 845.341.4694 to arrange a tour and to discuss the program in depth. Touring the campus and discussing the program in person is by far the best way to determine if BRIDGES is the right program for you.