By Mike Greife, January 26, 2016
WARRENSBURG, MO – The University of Central Missouri’s THRIVE program has been named the recipient of the 2015 Missouri Governor’s Council on Disability Inclusion Award.
The award is presented annually to recognized private and public employers, individuals and organizations that have successfully included people with disabilities in education, employment, housing and leisure activities. THRIVE staff will accept the award at the Power Up Conference April 19 in St. Charles.
THRIVE, the acronym for Transformation, Health, Responsibility, Independence, Vocation and Education, is a two-year certificate program on the university’s Warrensburg campus that prepares students with developmental or intellectual disabilities for independent living, personal interaction, and employment fitting their goals and abilities.
THRIVE students are accepted as full-time university students, residing in university housing and attending classes with the general campus student population. UCM students serve as mentors, living in the residence hall with the THRIVE students and providing guidance and support. Coursework consists of a core curriculum of life and academic skills taught by THRIVE faculty, with students enrolled in university courses, which may be taken for credit, depending upon ability level. The program provides them experience in independent living, along with interaction with peers, computer skills, job skills, and career-focused internships, and opportunities to participate in campus student organizations.
Since it was founded with the first class of students in the fall of 2005, the program
has grown from its first cohort of 12 students to current enrollment of 28, with students
enrolled from across the country. THRIVE students are eligible to apply for federal
financial aid upon completion of the FAFSA. The program has received
statewide recognition by Gov. Jay Nixon and has hosted visitors from the U.S. Department of Education and Russia seeking more information about the program.
“Most THRIVE graduates are living independently and working in businesses in their communities, far removed from the option of sheltered workshops,” said Barbara Mayfield, UCM ADA/504 coordinator, director of Accessibility Services and co-author of the grant that provided initial funding for THRIVE. “A far-reaching benefit is the effect on other UCM students who will have a new perspective when they are hiring employees with disabilities in the workplace. They have welcomed interaction with THRIVE students in classes, intramurals, student organizations and recreation.”