On The Avenue: Alexander Joins IDEAL Program

This week On The Avenue we’re wishing Alexander luck as he joins the IDEAL program at Lipscomb University! For those of you who don’t know about IDEAL, it is Lipscomb’s program for young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. It provides its students with an opportunity for growth and independence, while promoting inclusion, belonging and contribution, and at the end of all of it they even assist each student with finding an internship or job. This type of program can be absolutely life changing for a student, helping them find their place in this world as they transition into their adulthood.

I spoke with Alexander’s father, Rick, earlier this week to find out a little more about Alexander’s transition and his experience with the program so far.

What was the application process like?

“Well we were kind of lucky since Alexander got to know a lot of the prior students through work, so when his name came up in the application process they recognized him and grabbed him right away. One of the first steps was the initial interview. We came with Alexander, and then at some point they asked us parents to stay busy while they talked to him, and then at the end they took the three of us on a tour of the campus. Next step was a strength assessment for Alexander where they kind of try to determine what his interests are in and what he likes to do.”

How were you introduced to the program?

“What was really cool was that he picked up on it from the guys he met here. He was working out in the warehouse with Hank and Colin (Former IDEAL students) and heard them talking about it and expressed interest. We tried Nashville Community college at one point as a schooling option, but they just don’t have the support we would need available. They have accommodation, but you’re really on your own there. IDEAL seems like they do a really good job balancing their academics and other activities. He’ll go 5 days a week from 8:00am-4:00pm and during that day he’ll go to 2 classes. The rest of the time is spent doing other activities, but they don’t just say, ‘You’re on your own. Go to a pep rally,’ or ‘You’re on your own. Go to a baseball game.’  There is someone there to help guide him through it.”

What do you think Alexander is the most excited about?

“ Tom asked him that yesterday and he told him he was most excited to learn more about history, and then Tom asked him what he was afraid of and Alexander said, ‘Nothing.’ I love that answer. The whole experience can seem really big and overwhelming, and I know that sometimes he gets scared, but we’re just trying to encourage him and let him know that he can do it.”

So even though we’re bummed to see Alexander go, we’re are SO thrilled for him as he starts this new journey. We know that the folks over at IDEAL are going to take great care of him, and we are wishing him the best of luck as he transitions into being a college student!

I want to say a big thank you to Rick, for walking me through their experience this week, and thank you to you all for checking in with us again On The Avenue.

If you would like to learn more about the IDEAL program you can check out their website here!

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