(Courtesy of Makor) The Makor College Experience, an innovative program for young men with intellectual disability (ID) looking to continue their Jewish education and experience college life, has been highlighted concurrently in a recent issue of the International Journal of Child Health and Human Development and the book “Building Children and Youth for the Future,” published by Nova Science Publishers.
Opening in the fall of 2017, the Makor College Experience is a partnership program of Makor Disability Services and Yeshiva University. Based on the Wilf Campus of Yeshiva University in the Washington Heights section of New York, the Makor College Experience provides individuals with intellectual disability the opportunity to be part of the YU community while gaining skills and exploring opportunities as they transition to lives of independence.
The book chapter, authored by Program Director and Developmental Psychologist Dr. Stephen Glicksman, of Teaneck, is titled, “The Makor College Experience: Successes and Challenges in the First Years of a College Experience Program for Individuals with Intellectual Disability.” He shares insights that were discovered as the developers of the program attempted to overcome the challenges of including students with ID on a college campus.
“The whole idea of the program is to provide our participants with a meaningful, inclusive, developmentally appropriate college experience,” Glicksman said. “The program mirrors a typical YU day, with Torah studies in the morning and classes in the afternoon. We have our own rebbe and teachers for the secular portion of the day, allowing our participants to be totally engaged as equals for the social aspects of college and campus life.”
In discussing lessons learned in the program’s early years, Glicksman focuses a lot on the concept of being real. “One of the things we write about in the chapter is the challenge of ‘misguided kindness.’ If I was speaking to a group of YU students, I would call it the ‘chesed-mentality.’ Because everyone at YU is so welcoming and accepting of our students, they often (with the purest of intentions) tolerate inappropriate behaviors in a way that, in the long run, may actually hinder the growth and acceptance of the Makor students in the outside world.”
While the primary purpose of the Makor College Experience is to impact the lives of the individuals in the program, the fact that it is also having an impact on the broader field of intellectual disability services is something that Glicksman and Makor Disability Services are very proud of.
“Publications such as these give us the opportunity to spread the word about Makor to the broader professional and scientific communities. Hopefully, others in the field will learn from our experiences and create their own programs to help more and more people live included and fulfilling lives. And, if we can also make a kiddush Hashem in the process, all the better.”
For more information about the Makor College Experience, visit www.yu.edu/makor-college-experience or email Dr. Stephen Glicksman at [email protected] For more information about Makor Disability Services, visit www.makorDS.org or call 718-853-0900.