Education

FIU Project Panther Life: Learning is for Everyone

Project Panther LIFE: Learning Is For Everyone is a certificate, non-degree program of study which allows students with Intellectual Disabilities to access and participate in a variety of FIU courses, varied job shadowing opportunities throughout campus, supervised employment internship experiences in the community, and other required program and community activities (e.g., Summer Residential Program, online academic curriculum, transition curricula, family/student seminars and networking, Best Buddies, Special Olympics) through a system of supports from academic mentors, peer coaches, faculty, and project personnel.

Who are you?

We are Panther LIFE, a postsecondary transition program for students with intellectual disabilities to have a university-based experience and prepare for paid employment. Visit program website for more information http://education.fiu.edu/pantherlife

How does this project impact the issue you selected?

Students with Intellectual Disabilities have the poorest post-school outcomes compared to other students with disabilities. Panther LIFE is the only postsecondary transition program in South Florida providing access to a university and preparation for paid employment. By focusing on academic, social, and independent living skills, positive growth can be documented in employment and increased self-esteem as students begin to perceive themselves as more similar to their non-disabled peers.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address?

To achieve a greater Miami, we need to provide education opportunities for all young people in our community, including those with Intellectual Disabilities. We are working to achieve this goal through Project Panther LIFE, a partnership led by Florida International University in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Parent to Parent of Miami. With the support of The Miami Foundation, we can ensure that learning really is for everyone.

Please give examples of your project's success.

Our program has rapidly grown. Panther LIFE students take university courses, present at conferences, participate in workshops, learn about technology and email etiquette, and gain travel expertise of the Miami Metro System. Students research healthy food choices, participate in scheduled fitness classes, and some even compete in the Special Olympics! All students participate in a job shadowing experience. To date, we have graduated 6 students and 4 are currently employed in the community.

Organization Name (or individuals name) Florida International University

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