SRU’s ‘Rock Life’ program will expand in the fall of 2018 to allow students to participate in a Living-Learning Community (LLC).
The ‘Rock Life’ program started in the fall of 2016, created for college students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The students come to campus either by commuting or living on campus. ‘Rock Life’ students take classes as a credit or they can audit the classes. In Pennsylvania, the program is one of nine programs and in the United States it is 1 of 255 programs and is one of only two in the state that are residential. The LLC coaches are volunteers but the Career Coaches are paid through a grant.
Robert Arnhold, professor of physical and health education and director of the ‘Rock Life’ program said, “They are not earning a degree but getting life experiences. The students learn independent living skills, job skills, and academics.”
The students are in a non-degree earning program. However, when the students complete 24 credits they earn a certificate for completion or can continue for two years and earn a certificate.
Emilia Hobbs, assistant coordinator for the LLC said, “They are taking classes that interest them. One of our students takes art classes, some of the students take special education classes, whatever the area of interest for them is, which is what is unique to our program because a lot of other schools that offer similar programs for this population only have a certain focus, like culinary arts or different vocational skills. But ours is individualized to the student.”
The staff encourages the LLC students to get involved socially. Students in the program also have a one-on-one career coach that works with them on making sure that they are succeeding academically and socially and that they are engaging in healthy habits such as exercising and eating healthy.
Mary Holmes, program coordinator, said that social support is a big factor for students in the program.
“Having students of similar disabilities and people who understand disabilities being all in the same hall,” Holmes said. “In our previous experiences it hasn’t really gone well with random room-mates so just having people in the special education programs and recreational therapy programs and other related majors is going to really foster those relationships.”
The LLC was approached by the campus housing department and contacted Arnhold to inform him that it was possible to be made available for the students.
“They pretty much took it from there,” Holmes said. “They were the ones that set it all up and got us the set wing and set us up with the GA that they recommended and we went from there.”
Housing will, however, not be segregated, it will be a mix of ‘Rock Life’ students and students not in the program on a floor.