Early Reach Academy helps students with disabilities transition to college life

students helping students

The Early Reach Academy at Penn State Harrisburg offers high school students with disabilities a chance to experience what college life is like.

Credit: Penn State Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Penn State Harrisburg’s Office of Continuing Education is offering the Early Reach Academy July 8 through 27. The grant-funded program offers high school students with disabilities, who may otherwise not get this opportunity, a chance to experience what college life is like as they prepare to make their transition from high school to postsecondary education.

The program is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Bureau Vocational Rehabilitation Services (BVRS), who have partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Penn State Harrisburg.

Participants include students with disabilities from the counties covered by the Harrisburg District Office of BVRS. These participants could include students in 10th, 11th, and 12th grade with learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Asperger Syndrome, and other physical or mental health disabilities, who are preparing for postsecondary education leading to competitive employment.

The academy takes place primarily on the Penn State Harrisburg campus, with students and resident assistants residing in Juniata Hall on campus.

Focus areas of the academy include career exploration, independent living, travel skills, self-advocacy, networking, communication and computer technology. The students will also take a three-credit speech class, which will transfer if or when they attend a traditional college.

Activities planned for students include yoga; dance lessons; paint night; cooking class with the campus chef; self-defense; science, technology, engineering, arts and math sessions; and a dance, as well as off-campus day trips.