The Arc of Haywood County

Project Name: University Participant (UP) Program

Contact Information:
Kelly R. Kelley/Rebekah E. Norris
(828) 227-3298
407 Welch Street
Waynesville, NC 28786 /

Project Goals

Participants will identify and meet individual learning objectives in the areas of personal development, community participation, vocational preparation, social participation, learning and course auditing.

Project Description

The Arc of Haywood County, in collaboration with Western Carolina University’s (WCU) special education program, has developed a model program for young adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities to experience university life and learning. The University Participant (UP) Program is designed to provide a one-year to two-year, on-campus living and learning experience for persons with developmental disabilities between the ages of 18 and 25. The goal of the program is to facilitate the transition of participants from secondary school to adult life in the areas of education, employment, and independent living. During the two year period, participants are expected to complete requirements for receiving a UP Certificate of Accomplishment based on successful completion of an Individual Plan for College Participation.

The UP Certificate of Accomplishment is awarded after a two-year period based on satisfactory completion of five program area components. These components include the following: personal development skills (e.g. communication skills, personal care skills, self-determination); community participation skills (e.g. using public transportation, budgeting, grocery shopping); vocational preparation skills (e.g. learning specific job skills on or off-campus); social participation and learning (e.g. participating in university functions such as athletic events, belonging to university clubs or organizations); and course auditing (e.g. auditing 3-4 courses per semester).

Daily activities are continually determined through a person-centered planning process that includes the individual with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, family members, fellow WCU students, and project personnel. Through this process we work together to determine: (a) nature of courses the person may audit; (b) leisure, recreation, and fitness activities of interest; (c) personal care needs that must be addressed; and (d) the type of supported employment training that should be provided.