41 people graduated from the LIT Leadership and Advocacy programme 2018 this week. The programme is for people with intellectual disabilities.
Limerick students among new graduates from LIT Leadership and Advocacy programme 2018 for people with intellectual disabilities
by ilovelimerick correspondent Chloe O’Keeffe
41 people graduated from the LIT Leadership and Advocacy 2018 this week. The programme is for people with intellectual disabilities.
The graduates, their families, and friends were addressed by Finian McGrath TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for Disability Issues, who told them that higher education must be open to meaningful participation for people with disabilities.
Minister McGrath said, “People with disabilities need to be allowed to participate in third level education in meaningful ways. Colleges like LIT are leading the way by providing valuable opportunities and developing courses to meet the needs of the disability sector.”
“I am delighted that people with disabilities have opportunities to learn about Human Rights, particularly now that we have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is important that we all understand that we all have the same rights, duties, and responsibilities. It is important that we continue to ensure that barriers to full participation in Irish society by people with disabilities are identified and addressed and the basic values of Irish society are respected by all.”
Speaking after she graduated from the programme, Helen Nagle from Ballyea said, “The course changed my life. I never thought that I would be able to speak in front of a group before. Now I am looking forward to giving presentations to Social Care students on my experience of independent living.”
Professor Vincent Cunnane, President of LIT commented, “LIT is very much about access and about empowering people to achieve. We believe that Higher Education should be accessible for everyone who can benefit from it. The 41 graduates in the Leadership and Advocacy programme 2018 are showing us the way in terms of meaningful participation in Higher Education, and are already applying what they have learned.
Cathy Jones, Head of the Department of LIT’s Applied Social Sciences stated that “Our Department is very privileged to host this programme, it brings richness and diversity to our suite of programmes and allows for co-learning across our students within the Department. For example, our Social Care students hear first-hand about the experiences and wishes of people with disabilities, which will enhance and inform their future practice no end. Today is a great celebration of the achievement of these 41 students, and it is envisaged that this programme will lead to further employment and educational opportunities for many of the participants.”
The Leadership and Advocacy programme 2018 (LAA) for people with intellectual disabilities was set up by the Limerick Institute of Technology in 2009, in partnership with Disability services in the greater Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and North Cork areas. Over 150 people have graduated from it to date.
The LIT Leadership and Advocacy programme 2018 runs in 3 LIT campuses; Moylish in Limerick, Thurles, and Ennis. This programme has been recognized by Aontas and the National Learning Network, for its contributions to adult and community education and has been shortlisted twice for a national Aontas STAR Award.
The aim of the LIT Leadership and Advocacy programme 2018 is to deliver classes in a college setting that are relevant to the lives of individuals with intellectual disability. The classes assist students in evaluating their own lives and allow them to increase future life expectations. LAA aims to facilitate students to become more aware of their rights as citizens and to empower them to exercise these rights. A significant part of the programme explores the UNCRPD and the effect it has on the lives of people with disabilities. The programme is tailored each year to the needs of the group and covers: Advocacy, Human Rights, Citizenship, Community, Capacity, and Independence. The material is delivered through lectures, workshops and co-learning assignments with the students of the Applied Social Sciences courses.
Each year the students choose projects that they wish to complete as part of their classwork. Examples of these projects have included a visit to the Dáil, production of a radio show for WIRED FM and a DVD on human rights. Students in the past have also organized a public Q&A session with local TDs on disability services and advocacy, and have visited the Courthouse in Mulgrave street Limerick to understand the legal rights of individuals.
The disability services supporting individuals to access the programme include the Brothers of Charity Limerick and Clare, Enable Ireland, Daughters of Charity, RehabCare, Moorehaven Centre, and St. Joseph’s Charleville. Students attend classes at the LIT campus one day per week and are joined in class activities by social care student co-learners as part of the Active Citizenship and Personal Development modules in the social care degree programme.
The LIT Leadership and Advocacy programme 2018 provides new opportunities and the classes open up another channel of development for people with disability to be fully included in the college community. Most of the students graduating would never have expected to go to college, and their families would never have expected them to either. The Leadership and Advocacy programme has contributed significantly to the LIT community.
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