MARY Immaculate College has seen its first crop of students graduate from a programme designed to empower people with intellectual disabilities.
Thirteen students from Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and Cork were part of the college’s pilot programme in contemporary living and Mary Immaculate has confirmed that the course is now to continue.
Its success, according to college president Prof Michael Hayes, presented a challenge to society on received ideas about education.
“Traditionally, the students who are with us today would not have had access to a college education. Through this work, we challenge society to rethink and reimagine the concept of education and in doing so, shatter stereotypes and acquire a broader and richer understanding of what education is all about. It reminds us that education is a fundamental human right,” Prof Hayes said. “More importantly, this programme of inclusion encourages new pathways to independence, enhances academic learning, personal growth and career development, and, ultimately, leads to more effective participation in society. The central aim of this course is to promote lifelong learning and active citizenship, providing a broader range of options in modern society”.
Over the course of the programme, students learned money and budgeting skills, art and design, IT and much more. There was also a work experience element with students taking on work at Wired FM, the college radio station; with the students’ union and in the college art studio.
Speaking about her experience with the programme, graduate Jessica Keegan from Feakle, County Clare, said: “When I came to Mary Immaculate College first, I was very nervous and the first year was very challenging for me”.
“But this semester was a turning point for me because I grew in confidence and I have learned to face new challenges in a more positive way. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be able to improve my existing skills”.
Prof Hayes thanked the JP McManus Foundation and the Mercy Sisters for their generosity towards the programme, as well as the MIC Foundation for its work in securing funding.